...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

June 20, 2009

Poem For The Rooftops Of Iran

Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2009 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 17, 2008

Wine Haiku

For wine lovers and poetry fans, check out The Red Wine Haiku Review. A sampling:

Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Suchots 1996 (France)
Like the final chord
Of Mahler's 9th symphony
A fade to silence

That sounds good. Or bad. I can't tell.

MacMurray Central Coast Pinot Noir 2005 (California)
Nursing home pinot
Blue haired ladies, plastic cups
Half-eaten meat loaf

Sounds yucky.

Sassoregale Maremma Toscana 2003 (Italy)
Really rough out front
Nasty Robitussin notes
Better left unsung

Unless you feel a cold coming on, I guess.

Cordier Chateau Andron 2000 (France)
Reminds me of 'Cats'
The show, not the animal
Andrew Lloyd Weber

Cats? Ha Ha Ha. You have no chance to survive drink your wine.

Royal Zin Cuvee Royall Zinfandel 'NV' (California)
This wine is a slut
Only one thing on her mind
And she's good at it

I think we found a wine for Casca.

Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Reserve Merlot 2002 (California)
A deep chocolate bomb
Merlot gets a bad rap, but
What does the crowd know?

I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!

Tierra Del Fuego 2004 (Argentinia)
Fresh for a second
Then chlorine and iodine
Fought for prominence


Smoking Loon Syrah (California) 1999
Tasty Big Round Fruit
And a surprising finish:
A Nestles Crunch Bar!

Smoking Loon usually disappoints, but that might have been interesting.

Posted by annika, May. 17, 2008 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 18, 2008

Bonus Friday Science Poem

Here's a poem, which purports to explain Schrdinger's conjecture. It's by Cecil Adams, a long time idol of mine, in response to a poem by one of his interlocutors. This post itself was inspired by Stewy.

Schroedinger, Erwin! Professor of physics!
Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics!
(Not bad, eh? Don't worry. This part of the verse
Starts off pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.)
Win saw that the theory that Newton'd invented
By Einstein's discov'ries had been badly dented.
What now? wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, "Don't panic,
No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic.
Consider electrons. Now, these teeny articles
Are sometimes like waves, and then sometimes like particles.
If that's not confusing, the nuclear dance
Of electrons and suchlike is governed by chance!
No sweat, though--my theory permits us to judge
Where some of 'em is and the rest of 'em was."
Not everyone bought this. It threatened to wreck
The comforting linkage of cause and effect.
E'en Einstein had doubts, and so Schroedinger tried
To tell him what quantum mechanics implied.
Said Win to Al, "Brother, suppose we've a cat,
And inside a tube we have put that cat at--
Along with a solitaire deck and some Fritos,
A bottle of Night Train, a couple mosquitoes
(Or something else rhyming) and, oh, if you got 'em,
One vial prussic acid, one decaying ottom
Or atom--whatever--but when it emits,
A trigger device blasts the vial into bits
Which snuffs our poor kitty. The odds of this crime
Are 50 to 50 per hour each time.
The cylinder's sealed. The hour's passed away. Is
Our pussy still purring--or pushing up daisies?
Now, you'd say the cat either lives or it don't
But quantum mechanics is stubborn and won't.
Statistically speaking, the cat (goes the joke),
Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked.
To some this may seem a ridiculous split,
But quantum mechanics must answer, "Tough @#&!
We may not know much, but one thing's fo' sho':
There's things in the cosmos that we cannot know.
Shine light on electrons--you'll cause them to swerve.
The act of observing disturbs the observed--
Which ruins your test. But then if there's no testing
To see if a particle's moving or resting
Why try to conjecture? Pure useless endeavor!
We know probability--certainty, never.'
The effect of this notion? I very much fear
'Twill make doubtful all things that were formerly clear.
Till soon the cat doctors will say in reports,
"We've just flipped a coin and we've learned he's a corpse."'
So saith Herr Erwin. Quoth Albert, "You're nuts.
God doesn't play dice with the universe, putz.
I'll prove it!" he said, and the Lord knows he tried--
In vain--until fin'ly he more or less died.
Win spoke at the funeral: "Listen, dear friends,
Sweet Al was my buddy. I must make amends.
Though he doubted my theory, I'll say of this saint:
Ten-to-one he's in heaven--but five bucks says he ain't."

Posted by annika, Apr. 18, 2008 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry & Science & Technology

May 16, 2007

"Eyes look your last..."

No one says good-bye like Shakespeare.

Why art thou yet so fair? shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here's to my love!

Posted by Victor, May. 16, 2007 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

March 07, 2007

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

I thought this one was interesting. I was looking for poems about hamburgers, because I just ate one.

Burger King

by Henry Burt Stevens

"At Burger King, Midday Sunday, Ft Myers, Florida"

Moving slowly not
to spoil their raiment

moving calmly
still otherworldly,

they do not see any of us
white, brown, or black

sitting with our families
eating burgers and fries,

though they smile gently
to one another.

We know who we are
and why we are not seen.

If it happens while
we're all together

we'll see them taken up
leaving us behind

but for now the saved
have joined with us for lunch.

Posted by annika, Mar. 7, 2007 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day is Poetry Day: Shakespeare

A simple and beautiful sonnet, expressing love using some of the simplest words in the English language. Only Shakespeare could have written this poem.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Posted by Victor, Feb. 14, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 07, 2007

Wednesday is Poetry to Kick Ass By Day: Robert Burns

My beloved Caps are in a slump. Tonight they were listless and slow, and lost in a shootout to a shitty team...again. Clearly, they need some poetry to stir their blood, and who better to do it than Robert Burns?

Besides, annika and I both missed his birthday last month...January 25.

Robert Bruce's March To Bannockburn (1793)

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to Victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power-
Chains and Slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha, for Scotland's King and Law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa',
Let him on wi' me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!-
Let us Do or Die!

Posted by Victor, Feb. 7, 2007 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 02, 2007

Ground Hog Day Haiku

phil says early spring
biden says obama's clean
long live barbaro

Posted by annika, Feb. 2, 2007 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 31, 2007

Wednesday is Bad Poetry Day: Fly Guy

An original composition, by Fly Guy. Freak y'all, into the beat y'all.

A hat tip to some blonde chick.

Posted by Victor, Jan. 31, 2007 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 24, 2007

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Sharon Olds

Reading a Sharon Olds poem is like drinking a very fine brandy. It'll go down like pink lemonaide, then knock you on your butt when you don't expect it. I once mentioned Sharon Olds to a poet friend, and she remarked Ms. Olds, "...doesn't waste a word." Nope, not a bit, even when most of them are given to her. In The Father, Ms. Olds learned something new about her father.

His Stillness

The doctor said to my father, You asked me
to tell you when nothing more could be done.
Thats what Im telling you now. My father
sat quite still, as he always did,
especially not moving his eyes. I had thought
he would rave if he understood he would die,
wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,
thin, and clean, in his clean gown,
like a holy man. The doctor said,
There are things we can do which might give you time,
but we cannot cure you. My father said,
Thank you. And he sat, motionless, alone,
with the dignity of a foreign leader.
I sat beside him. This was my father.
He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to
tie him down. I had not remembered
he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,
the liquor a way to keep still. I had not
known him. My father had dignity. At the
end of his life his life began
to wake in me.

Posted by Victor, Jan. 24, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 17, 2007

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Shakespeare

My first exposure to Shakespeare was in the soundtrack to Hair when I was but a wee lad. The liner notes to one song said it was, "...absolutely beautiful. It was written by Shakespeare," if I recall correctly and at the time I thought it was just poetic license, that Misters Rado, Ragni, and MacDermot were comparing their work to Shakespeare. Boy, was I surprised when I found out they weren't kidding.

Of course, they farted around with the Bard's words, splitting Hamlet's speech and putting the last half first. Can't quite figure out why, but they did and it's fucked me up ever since. Whenever I see it performed, I think the speech is backwards.

I still think it's a beautiful speech, even if it does take place as Hamlet is deep into (faking) his madness. And while it technically may be prose, it reads as poetry.

What a Piece of Work is Man
(Hamlet, Act II, Scene II)

...I have of latebut wherefore I know notlost all my
mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so
heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth,
seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the
air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical
roof fretted with golden fire,why, it appears no other thing
to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a
piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in
faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in
action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the
beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what
is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman
neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

(On a related note, the British Library has put it's collection of Shakespeare on line...or, as the Library puts it, "On this site you will find the British Librarys 93 copies of the 21 plays by William Shakespeare printed in quarto before the theatres were closed in 1642." Cool, eh? You can find them here.)

Posted by Victor, Jan. 17, 2007 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 10, 2007

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Scorpion Poetry

The Rattlesnake and Scorpion

by Ruth Yoshiko Okimoto

Said the Scorpion to the Rattlesnake,
"What manner of commotion is happening here?
The sawing of lumber and pounding of nails,
      black tarpaper falls and covers my trail.
Tall fence posts pierce deep into the ground
      securing chainlink fences and barbed wire from town."

Said the Rattlesnake to the Scorpion,
"Indeed, huge pipes obstruct and crisscross my path,
      and loud swishing noises disturb my sleep.
Why, I went foraging for food and found
      my favorite hunting ground vanished today
      and more will dwindle, I've heard them say."

Said the Scorpion to the Rattlesnake,
"And worse even yet, small human fingers foolishly grab
      my sisters, brothers, cousins, and all,
      and drown them in jars filled with alcohol."
"How foolish, indeed," replied the Rattlesnake,
      "Don't they know of your sting, my venomous bite?"

Said the Scorpion to the Rattlesnake,
"What kind of human would dare intrude into our sacred place?
We've lived on this land for centuries, I'm told,
      so, why do they come here to ravage and destroy?
We've lived in peace, both you and I,
      with no intent to hurt or annoy."

Said the Rattlesnake to the Scorpion,
"Some humans, I'm told, regard those who differ in skin
      or thought with what they call 'justifiable' hate."
"As you know," continued the Rattlesnake,
      "humans are the most dangerous animal of all;
      they kill with lethal weapons ten feet tall."

Asked the Scorpion of the Rattlesnake,
"So what do you think they are building here,
      in the midst of our desert home?"
Answered the Rattlesnake with a somber voice,
"It's something menacing, and I fear
      portend of dangers yet unclear."

[This poem was written in 1942, while Okimoto was interned at Poston Relocation Center, Arizona.]

Posted by annika, Jan. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 03, 2007

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Ogden Nash

This is a slightly unusual poem by Ogden Nash. Not because it's humorous; most of Nash's poetry was humorous. No, what I find unusual about it is it seems to be a mish-mash of styles. Note how the last five lines are *almost* a limerick (the rhyming scheme is off a bit-ABCCB). I suspect, though, that was accidental.

But that's not important; what I think is important is he's right about what that something about a martini is.

Tanqueray, in my case.

A Drink With Something In It

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth--
I think that perhaps it's the gin.

Posted by Victor, Jan. 3, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 27, 2006

Wednesday is MAD Poetry Day: MAD Magazine

Quite simply, anything from MAD Magazine needs no introduction, save for the legal stuff: Copyright 1999, by E.C. Publications, this selection is from the December 1995, Super-Special #109 issue:

It's a gas!

The Night Before Christmas, 1999 or St. Nicholas Meets the Population Explosion
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the gloom
Not a creature was stirring;
There just wasn't room;
The stockings were hanging
In numbers so great,
We feared that the walls
Would collapse from the weight!

The children like cattle
Were packed off to bed;
We took a quick count;
There were three-hundred head;
Not to mention the grown-ups--
Those hundreds of dozens
Of uncles and inlaws
And twice-removed cousins!

When outside the house
There arose such a din!
I wanted to look
But the mob held me in;
With pushing and shoving
And cursing out loud,
In forty-five minutes
I squeezed through the crowd!

Outside on the lawn
I could see a fresh snow
Had covered the people
Asleep down below;
And up in the sky
What should strangely appear
But an overweight sleigh
Pulled by countless reindeer!

They pulled and they tugged
And they wheezed as they came,
And the red-suited driver
Called each one by name:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, comet! On, Cupid!
On Donder and Blitzen!"

"Now, Melvin! Now, Marvin!
Now, Albert and Jasper!
On, Sidney! On, Seymour!
On Harvey and Casper!
Now, Clifford! Now, Max"--
But he stopped, far from through;
Our welcoming house-top
Was coming in view!

Direct to our house-top
The reindeer then sped
With the sleigh full of toys
And St. Nick at the head;
And then like an earthquake
I heard on the roof
The clomping and pounding
Of each noisy hoof!

Before I could holler
A warning of doom,
The whole aggregation
Fell into the room;
And under a mountain
Of plaster and brick
Mingled inlaws and reindeer
And me and St. Nick;

He panted and sighed
Like a man who was weary;
His shoulders were stooped
And his outlook was dreary:
"I'm way behind schedule,"
He said with a sigh,
"And I've been on the road
Since the first of July!"

'Twas then that I noticed
The great, monstrous sack,
Which he barely could hold
On his poor, creaking back;
"Confound it!" he moaned,
"Though my bag's full of toys,
I'm engulfed by the birthrate
Of new girls and boys!"

Then, filling the stockings,
He shook his sad face,
"This job is a killer!
I can't take the pace!
This cluttered old world
Is beyond my control!
There are even millions
Up at the North Pole!"

"Now I'm late!" he exclaimed, "And I really must hurry!
By now I should be over Joplin, Missouri!"
But he managed to sigh as he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Yeah, that looks like Christmas

Posted by Victor, Dec. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 20, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: e.e. cummings

In 1922, as he was finding his voice, e.e. cummings wrote this poem of a tree, as seen thru the eyes of a small child.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and I'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

Posted by Victor, Dec. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 13, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: John Ciardi

Sometimes, a poem leaps out and practically forces me to pick it for Poetry Day. I found this one in a book entitled Echoes: Poems Left Behind, a collection of poetry by John Ciardi that was published after his death in 1986. It's possible Mr. Ciardi never intended it to be published, or perhaps he wasn't satisfied with it and intended to take it out again in a few years, look at it with fresh eyes, and polish it until it was shining.

I chose this one because it was written 27 years ago today.

December 13, 1979
Three squirrels wound and sprung to this remitted
December day chase tumble tails on the lawn.
They must be winter-sure in the elm, permitted
by a plenty in its boles. There's not one acorn
on or under the oak. They go to go.
But why this lawn party? I think they know

the dog is old and stiff, his monster slacked.
His ears tense toward them but it takes four
deliberate heaves to get his hind legs cocked
as if to spring. And what shall he spring for?
There is no energy after energy.
He quivers feral, but then looks at me

as if I might serve them to him in a dish
like Greeks godsent to the ogre. Of my guilt
that I have uncreatured a world to this mish-mash
whine and quiver half-down in the silt
of a sludged instinct, I toss him a soy bone.
He settles for my bogus and settles down.

And the squirrels spin, almost as if they flew,
to the top of the split shake fence, into the spruce,
across it over the roof, over the yew
and into the hemlock thicket, fast and loose,
as fast as easy, around and around again
in the feast of being able to. Amen.

Posted by Victor, Dec. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 06, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Ruth Stone

In an interview, Ruth Stone offered the following opinion on poetry and fiction:

J.F.Battaglia: You have written many short stories, some published in The New Yorker, in Commentary and elsewhere; what are some distinctions between poetry and fiction?

Ruth Stone: Prose and stories are more objective. Poems are emotional opinion.

JB: How did that get to be?

RS: I think poems are closer to your mad reactions to life. Also to the self, the wounded. I think a lot of poetry comes out of wounds...

Seen in that light, I admit I looked at Ms. Stone's poem about a young girl turning into her mother (published when she was in her sixties!) in a whole new fashion.

Second Hand Coat
I feel
in her pockets; she wore nice cotton gloves,
kept a handkerchief box, washed her undies,
ate at the Holiday Inn, had a basement freezer,
belonged to a bridge club.
I think when I wake in the morning
that I have turned into her.
She hangs in the hall downstairs,
a shadow with pulled threads.
I slip her over my arms, skin of a matron.
Where are you? I say to myself, to the orphaned body,
and her coat says,
Get your purse, have you got your keys?

Posted by Victor, Dec. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 29, 2006

Wednesday is Bad Poetry Day: PMS Poetry

The last Wednesday of the month is Bad Poetry Day, and my thanks to annika for this edition's inspiration.

Have you ever googled "pms poetry" lately? You should.

First, we discover PMS is a journal of Poems/Memoirs/Stories by women, and, presumably, for women. There are two poems in the latest online version of PMS and they're not too bad, so they will not be included today. But now you know about the number one google hit for "PMS poetry."

Of course, if you go down just a bit, you find some amateur poetry ("amateur" defined as "not professional." I'm not being insulting here).

Will you get off my back, get away from me.
Its that time of the month, so just let me be.
I counted out eight, there was ten there instead?
On a day like today, I should stay in bed.

Oh give me a girdle Im ballooning again,
I resemble a Flintstone, not Wilma but Fred!
On my face the zits like volcanoes erupt.
Clearasil, Topex, I cant get enough.

Tomorrow Ill cramp up and wish I was dead,
This hormone imbalance makes me light in the head.
The curse of a woman in child bearing years.
Makes me want for hot flashes, is menopause near?

A warning goes out to the people near us.
Look out pedestrians, I have P.M.S.

If the author was trying to be light-hearted, I'd have to say she succeeded, as this is pretty funny. If she was serious, though, she failed miserably. I think it's pretty obvious she was going for humor, though you never know.

Proceeding on, we come across

Drip, Drop
There goes a blod [sic] clot.
Swish, swash
It makes a splash.
Pms is not fun,
But every girl gets one.
My period is such a curse.
I keep tampons in my purse.
Having a period really sucks.
Because when I have it, I can't fuck.

Interesting--the first image grosses men out (and some women too, I'm sure), but by the end...you've completely forgotten what the subject is. Part of it is because the meter and rhyme scheme go right down the toilet (Swish, swash/It makes a splash) but mostly because the author, in the last line, reveals the true tragedy of PMS--besides the wanting to kill the next person who PISSES! YOU! OFF!

Moving on, we find....not too much more, to be honest. You'll find some references to writers talking about their "PMS poetry" which I gather is stuff they dash off while angry or upset or...you know, PMSing...then destroy because even they realize it stinks. But not too much actual poetry about or inspired by PMS is to be found.

Most interesting, though, is an article at salon.com suggesting PMS may have driven Sylvia Plath to suicide. However, I'll leave that discussion (as well as reading the article, to be honest) for another day.

Posted by Victor, Nov. 29, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 22, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: e.e. cummings

Just over fifty years ago (like, fifty years and two-and-a-half weeks ago) the United States in general, and the United Nations in particular, did nothing while a country in Eastern Europe tried to throw off the yoke of Soviet oppression.

I don't remember much more than that--it's been quite awhile since I've taken a history class. If the teacher told us what the mood of the U.S. was after the failed Hungarian Revolution, I don't remember.

But, based on the following poem by e.e. cummings, I suspect a portion of the country felt the U.S. could have done more.


a monstering horror swallows
this unworld me by you
as the god of our fathers' father bows
to a which that walks like a who

but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night & day
"all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u s a"

suddenly uprose hungary
and she gave a terrible cry
"no slave's unlife shall murder me
for i will freely die"

she cried so high thermopylae
heard her and marathon
and all prehuman history
and finally The UN

"be quiet little hungary
and do as you are bid
a good kind bear is angary
we fear for the quo pro quid"

uncle sam shrugs his pretty
pink shoulders you know how
and he twitches a liberal titty
and lisps "i'm busy right now"

so rah-rah-rah democracy
let's all be as thankful as hell
and bury the statue of liberty
(because it begins to smell)

(The Wikipedia entry discussing the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is here.)

Posted by Victor, Nov. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 15, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

[A special guest post by Sheila from The Sheila Variations]

Annika asked me to write an introduction today to Petula Clark's poem, "The Theatre." I immediately thought of her best known song, "Downtown" of course. Petula Clark is one of the most successful female artists of all time, just in terms of the number of hits she has had. After "Downtown", she had 15 consecutive Top 40 hits. That's insane. To me, it feels like she has always been there.

But I also thought about my aunt - who was in the Broadway show Blood Brothers with Petula, and understudied Petula's part. This was a big deal for my aunt, who had been in the business for years, but was making her Broadway debut in Blood Brothers. The entire O'Malley clan, the crowd of nieces and nephews, all flocked to New York to see my aunt on Broadway. Most of us are in the theatre as well, actors, directors, writers. We knew that the whole "one big break" thing is kind of a myth, that it often takes a couple of little breaks to lead to the REALLY big break, but still, it was very exciting to go see her.

We sat in the darkened theatre, and Petula was the lead, of course, and she was fantastic (great recording, by the way, if you like Petula Clark. It's definitely worth listening to) - but all we could see was our aunt, in her smaller part. Petula Smetula. LOOK AT OUR AUNT ON BROADWAY. If our aunt had a funny line, we all HOWLED with laughter. When our aunt made an entrance we all gripped hands together. Afterwards, we went backstage - there were about 15 of us - ranging in age from 25 to 7 years old (you know, Irish Catholic family). And there was Petula Clark. What I remember now, and what came up for me when Annika asked me to write this piece today - is how sweet she was to all of us, and also - how much she GOT that we were there for our AUNT, not for her. Ms. Clark put her arm around my aunt, and said to all of us, grinning, "Isn't she just marvelous?" It was like she was just another member of the ensemble. She's Petula freakin' Clark! But she also somehow understood that this was a big moment for my aunt, and she was supportive and cool about it. I always liked her for that. Another star would have sniffed at all the little kids clamoring backstage to see a cast member other than her! But Petula Clark just stood there, enjoying my aunt's success vicariously.

Enough about that. Annika sent me the poem below and I'll just say one or two quick things about it. It's obviously not a very good poem, just in terms of language or form. It's not T.S. Eliot. But I found it strangely touching, because of its sincerity. It doesn't have any pretension (which is more than you can say for a lot of poetry!) It is honest. Perhaps I can relate to it because I grew up in a theatrical family, and I am an actress myself. She is speaking about my life, about something that is important to me.

The Theatre

Yes, the theatre.
It's a funny thing, the theatre, when you stop and think of it.
The comedy, the drama, the striving for a "hit".
The idea of an audience and an actor up on stage.
Don't you think it's rather funny watching someone earn his wage?

There's something about the theatre and I'm not sure what it is.
It's surely not the money or the thing they call "show biz."
We hear about the magic of the theatre,
fantasy quite unlike the movies or the telly. I agree.

I love going to the theatre, sitting right there, where you are
watching my favorite actors or the birth of a new star.
All those special evenings with Lloyd-Webber or the Bard,
something old from whoever, a new play by Tom Stoppard,
And the music of the theatre, Bernstein, Hammerstein, Sondheim are so devine
that sometimes I wish they'd never end.

The best way to go to the theatre is right there through the stage door.
I leave the world behind me like a mantle on the floor.
And oh the sweet relief to know that at least for the next few hours
I'll know the plot and in these times that's quite a lot.
And everybody knows their lines and who they are and where they stand. It's grand.

Unlike the world outside these doors, the homeless that the world ignores,
the violence, the poverty, the things we cannot help but see,
including our own inadequacies to somehow make it right.
I can't forget the things I've seen and all the places I've been.
I can't forget, they haunt me yet.
The millions of refugees and my anger will not let me sleep
and when my grief becomes too deep, I sing.

Yeah, I sing.
I sing along with friends, we sing and try to make amends.
We beg for money on the stage, we smile and try to hide our rage.
We try to help.
I know that you do too.
Most of us do.

So here we are in this hallowed place, sharing a special time and space.
I hadn't realized before, but maybe that's what the theatre is for,
to bring us together, to make us see that the magic is not just some fantasy
tho' we all need some fantasy.
No, the magic you see is in you, in me.
It's a funny thing, the theatre.

[Petula Clark 1998]

I loved this part:
And oh the sweet relief to know that at least for the next few hours
I'll know the plot and in these times that's quite a lot.
And everybody knows their lines and who they are and where they stand.
It's grand.
That made me smile. There have been times when everything in my "real" life is absolutely insane - someone's breaking up with me, I have financial problems, I'm moving, my cat died, whatever ... and yet I get to go to the theatre every night and get a brief respite from the chaos. I get to go to a place where I know the plot, and I can fit myself into it, and not worry about how things will turn out, because somebody else has written the lines that I need to say. To my friends who are not actors, the thought of being onstage in front of people is so stressful that they cannot believe I would find that to be a place where I DON'T have to worry ... but that's the paradox, and actors understand that weirdness. It's a funny thing.

And I'll just close with this. I told Annika in an email that I really liked this section of the poem, and I found it strangely moving, even though it makes me feel like a goofball:

Yeah, I sing.
I sing along with friends, we sing and try to make amends.
We beg for money on the stage, we smile and try to hide our rage.
We try to help.
I know that you do too.
Most of us do.
It's simply said, and perhaps it's not all that poetic, but I like it because it is not self-important ... but we all have things that we DO in life. And you must not dis your gift, or downplay it. If you have a gift, you must use it. She has a gift of a voice. So she uses it. It's not the biggest gift in the world, it won't change anything, and - oh yeah - she gets paid for it! She's not volunteering her time. This is her JOB. And so all she can do is do her job, and hope that it helps ... but even if it doesn't, she still has to do it. Sing with her friends, beg for money on the stage, and try to help. I like that attitude. It is not surprising to me that she is as successful as she is. She's a workhorse. I know a lot of successful people. I know a lot of successful actors. They are not people who have more talent. They are people who WORK.

I have also experienced that, for the most part (not always, but for the most part) - those who are the most talented and most successful are also the most generous. This is not always the case, but more often than not, it is.

And that's what I think of when I think of Petula Clark's beautiful smiling face, backstage, as she hugged my aunt with one arm, and beamed at all the O'Malley faces smiling up at her.

Posted by annika, Nov. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 08, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Robert W. Service

What can I say about "The Cremation of Sam McGee" except...

..."Sam McGee" is the answer to a question in Trivial Pursuit ("Who was cremated on the marge of Lake LeBarge?"). This is a fun little read that starts out sounding like a ghost story--almost like "The Tell-Tale Heart" only without the guilt-ridden confession at the end.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Actic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake LeBarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold til I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead - it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn, but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate these last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows - O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent, and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Til I came to the marge of Lac LeBarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the 'Alice May.'
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then, "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared - such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow;
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked;"... then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door!
It's warm in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm--
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake LeBarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Posted by Victor, Nov. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 01, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Sylvia Plath, previously unpublished

It's a bonus Poetry Day this week, as my lunchtime reading alerted me to the fact a previously unpublished sonnet by Sylvia Plath was released online today.

The Blackbird is Virginia Commonwealth University's online literature/arts journal. A contributing editor of the Blackbird, Anna Journey, discovered this sonnet was previously unpublished and argued it should be published. The editorial staff agreed and a transcript, along with images of an early draft and the final version, were released online today with the permission of the estate of Sylvia Plath.

And, as you might imagine, there are copyright notices all over the place on this. As a result, I provide the first line of Ennui, linked to the article in today's issue of the Blackbird:

Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,

Posted by Victor, Nov. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 31, 2006

Halloween is Poetry Day: The Raven

For this Very Special Halloween episode of Poetry Day, I offer a poem by the Original American Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Some find this poem scary, and while the setting and word choice are certainly not cheery, in the end I find this tale of a lonely widower lamenting his beloved (but dead) wife sad rather than frightening.

If you like, you may go to this page to hear Basil Rathbone read "The Raven." Versions are available in mp3 and Real Audio formats.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,.
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here forevermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me---filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
" 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door.
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door;---
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
"Lenore!" Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
"Surely," said I, "surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
" 'Tis the wind, and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore."
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore,---
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never---nevermore."

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore --
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee -- by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite---respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore:
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me I implore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil--prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore---
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted---nevermore!

Posted by Victor, Oct. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 25, 2006

Wednesday is Bad Poetry Day: NASCAR Poetry

In case regular readers of Annika's Journal haven't noticed, she has left Poetry Day in my hands. Since I can do whatever I like with Poetry Day, I've declared the last Wednesday of the month will be dedicated to Bad Poetry. This week: NASCAR Poetry.

A few weeks ago, I had some fun at NASCAR's expense, asking, "Notice there's no real good NASCAR poetry out there?" Believe me, there's not (I looked. Lord, how I looked!) and I doubt there ever will be.

I state this because NASCAR isn't a sport that lends itself to poetry. I realize there is strategy and drama and winners and losers, but the sport in and of itself isn't poetic. In fact, NASCAR and poetry are so far apart, the thought of combining the two was turned into a joke at The Specious Report. Take a look at NASCAR haiku, as printed in that article:

Pit crew watches, waits;
Tire tread and ashpalt embrace
Sweet sigh of relief.

NASCAR will never produce a Casey at the Bat. Name a situation in NASCAR with the drama of being down by one or two in the bottom of the ninth, where one swing of the bat leaves you the hero or (in Casey's case) the goat. Not to say there's no drama in NASCAR, but sneaking up on someone on the last lap just isn't the same.

Kids can't really "play" NASCAR, while lots of kids play football, baseball, basketball...you get the idea. NASCAR will never inspire anything like How To Play Night Baseball.

But still, some try. I suspect T. is a very nice person--the kind of person who'll give you the shirt off her back, invite you to her house & feed you until you can't move, and make you feel like a friend you've known since the day you were born. I kind of feel bad about making fun of her poetry.

I mean, she has a poem to her pets on her page! Anyone with pets is OK in my book. But take a look at this:

A Prayer For The Drivers
This is a prayer to say before every race begins
To keep all the drivers safe and God bless whoever wins
So bow your heads with me, and together we will ask
That God protect every driver for each and every lap...
"Dear God in heaven we ask you to watch over this track
and keep these drivers safe and sound for every single lap
watch them and protect them with your caring watchful eye
and bless them each and every time a green flag lap goes by
we pray there are no cautions because of a crash
and let them continue to race this race until the very last
so which ever driver makes his way to Victory Lane
we, the fans, know you heard our prayer
and blessed us all the same...

Umm...OK. This is a nice sentiment (although every time I read God bless whoever wins I want to continue The rest of you LOSERS can go to hell! ) but the meter is generic (when it's not blown completely), the rhyming is forced at times, and it almost sounds as if it was produced by the head of the Prom comittee who's about to blow her own deadline or something...I dunno. Bad poetry leads to bad analogies.

Posted by Victor, Oct. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 18, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: e. e. cummings

The first poem I really liked was by e.e.cummings. In my senior year of high school, many, many, years ago, the best teacher I ever had used it when he taught us poetry. I bet if the county had approved that poem, more of us would enjoy poetry to this day.

(The teacher, Mr. S, wasn't afraid to bend the rules. One day I'll tell you what he did to the quarterback of the football team.)

Sadly, I can't find that poem. I would have sworn it was called "Thanksgiving" and that the first line was "by virtue of by virtue i" but my gf's copy of e.e.cummings: Complete Poems (1904-1962) doesn't list that line in the index of first lines.

Too bad I can't find it. You'll just have to wait.

Anyway. My gf suggested the following poem, and I agree it should be featured. It's a simple, fun little poem, that looks a lot more complex than it is. In fact, she saw me looking at it, face twisted in thought, and she asked me what I thought.

"It's a fun read," I answered, "but I can't quite figure out what it means."

She may have sighed. "Just read the last line. That's what it's about!" she answered. I think she's right.

I'm very fond of
black bean
soup(O i'm
fond of black
bean soup
Yes i'm very fond
of black bean soup)But
i don't disdain
a beef-

Gimme gin&bitters to
open my
eyes(O gimme
bitters to open
my eyes
Yes gimme gin&bitters
to open my eyes)But
i'll take straight rum as
a night-

Nothing like a blonde for
ruining the
blues(O nothing
like a
blonde for ruining
the blues
Yes nothing like a blonde
for ruining the blues)But
i use redheads for
the tooth

Parson says a sinner will
perish in the
flames(O parson
says a
sinner will perish
in the flames
Yes parson says a sinner
Will perish in the flames)But
i reckon that's better
than freez-

Everybody's dying to be
else(O every
dying to be some
one else
Yes everybody's dying
to be someone else)But
i'll live my life if
it kills

Posted by Victor, Oct. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 11, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Richard Harrison

Two weeks ago, I presented baseball poetry. Baseball lends itself to poetry--both are cerebral, complex, and boring to those of lesser intelligence. Notice there's no real good NASCAR poetry out there?

My other favorite sport is hockey. Maybe because it's easy to get tickets, maybe because it's a beautiful game, maybe because the first words my gf ever spoke to me were because of hockey...I like hockey a lot.

Two years ago, I wasn't watching hockey. No one was, because of the lockout. Little did we know that soon, in mid-February, the 2004-05 NHL season would be cancelled. People were Pissed Off.

Canadian poet Richard Harrison has published an entire book of hockey poetry, Hero of the Play, and he was one of those Pissed Off people. Soon after the season was cancelled in 2005, the following poem was published:

NH Elegy

Once, men came home from war,
or from the sides of family graves,
to lace up skates and play for it
as if everything could be remade
in a silver bowl passed hand to hand.
For years it etched the seasons
with their winning names,
and took the touch of triumph
into each triumphant house. It paused
just once to mourn the dead, and
stayed unmarked to mark their passing.
Today, left idle in the Hall of Fame,
while rich men quarrel to no profit at its base,
untouched upon its plinth it stands.
And all who see it can tell you now
how a fallen thing is one that no one holds.

Of course, the 2006-07 hockey season started last week. The league has expanded from the Original Six teams to thirty teams, the Great Canadian Game...well, there are only 6 teams from cities in the Great White North. There are teams in Phoenix, Florida, Tennesee, and the defending Stanley Cup champions play in North Carolina. They're also winless, but there's a lot of season yet to go.

My beloved Caps have played only two games and they're 1 and 1, which, where they're concerned, is slightly above par for them in October. Yeah, baby...it's hockey season.

Game on!

Posted by Victor, Oct. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 04, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Bernie Taupin

One of the first albums I ever bought (waaay back when CDs were called "albums" and they were huge, delicate things stamped on black vinyl) was Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. My best friend Dave had a copy of it, and I liked it enough to save up my allowance and buy it. I probably bought it for one song; The moderately-hard rocking (Gotta Get a) Meal Ticket. I mean, the rest of the album was good, but that song rocked! Moderately.

As I grew older, I came to appreciate the album for more than that song. Maturity changes one's point of view, and songs that meant one thing suddenly mean something else five, ten, or thirty years later. I'm almost ashamed to admit it took me about thirty years to finally realize what one of Bernie Taupin's best poems was about, but better late than never, eh?

(I think. I mean, it's all in the interpretation, isn't it?)

The poem/song is called Writing and it's a beautiful little song. The junior-high school kid who bought this album was probably bored by this song about two people writing a book or something, with its cutesy lyrics and lite-rock guitar work. In fact, I'm sure I used to skip over this song when listening to the album.

But suddenly, one day last week, this song completely changed for me. Sometimes, maturity is not overrated.


Is there anything left
Maybe steak and eggs?
Waking up to washing up
Making up your bed
Lazy days my razor blade
Could use a better edge

It's enough to make you laugh
Relax in a nice cool bath
Inspiration for navigation
Of our new found craft
I know you and you know me
It's always half and half

And we were oh oh, so you know
Not the kind to dawdle
Will the things we wrote today
Sound as good tomorrow?
Will we still be writing
In approaching years?
Stifling yawns on Sundays
As the weekends disappear

We could stretch our legs if we've half a mind
But don't disturb us if you hear us trying
To instigate the structure of another line or two
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through

And we were oh oh, so you know
Not the kind to dawdle
Will the things we wrote today
Sound as good tomorrow?
Will we still be writing
In approaching years?
Stifling yawns on Sundays
As the weekends disappear

We could stretch our legs if we've half a mind
But don't disturb us if you hear us trying
To instigate the structure of another line or two
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through

(NOTE: This is the song as sung by Elton John. Bernie Taupin might have sent it to Elton in a slightly different format.)

If you've never heard Elton John's music to these lyrics, a not-inaccurate cover by Brazillian musician Roberto de Carvalho can be heard on this page. Scroll down a bit, or search for "Writing." But my advice would be to buy the CD. You won't regret it.

Posted by Victor, Oct. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 27, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day

annika has forgotten Poetry Day. Obviously, she's too distraught about the midget Angus Young being beaten by cancer-survivor Kylie Minogue in her latest poll. Sorry, annika, but a great back door will beat a midget in short pants any day.

Anyway. Poetry Day. Today's pick is inspired by my upcoming trip (like, in 30 minutes) to RFK to catch the Nats play the Phillies in some night action from the cheap seats, one section behind the right-field foul pole. Only one ball has come that way during a game: a monster home run by Daryle Ward (before he was traded to Atlanta) that hit the small wall right in front of my seat (sec 552 row 1 seat 3, on my 20-game plan), the day before I was supposed to go to a game. You can still see the smudge, if you know where to look.

Hard to think night baseball is still kinda recent. One hundred years ago...well, I wouldn't be seeing a game in late September. And it wouldn't be an NL game, and it would be between the Nationals and the Phillies.

And it for damn sure wouldn't have a 7:05PM start. Purists always say the original is best, and sometimes they're right (NO DL!), but...night baseball is cool. If you're ever in Washington, take a trip to the Phillips Collection and check out Night Baseball by Marjorie Phillips. It's kinda hidden away, but well worth the search.

(BTW, that's the Senators playing the Yankees, with DiMaggio at the plate.)

Funny sport, baseball. Start talking about one thing and you're suddenly drifting off as memories pile one on top of the other, at least until you hear that utterly distinct crack! and the crowd stands up and you're really focused on the ball's path and that sonovabitch is gone!

crack! Poetry Day. I found this poem one day and it struck me as how night baseball used to be, 100 years ago, only without the chlorine. Jonathan Holden published it in 1972.

How To Play Night Baseball

A pasture is best, freshly
mown so that by the time a grounder's
plowed through all that chewed, spit-out
grass to reach you, the ball
will be bruised with green kisses. Start
in the evening. Come
with a bad sunburn and smelling of chlorine,
water still crackling in your ears.
Play until the ball is khaki-
a movable piece of the twilight-
the girls' bare arms in the bleachers are pale,
and heat lightning jumps in the west. Play
until you can only see pop-ups,
and routine grounders get lost in
the sweet grass for extra bases.

Posted by Victor, Sep. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 20, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Today's edition: bad YouTube poetry readings.

#1. I think she calls it "Fill Me," but I'm going to rename it "Tadpoles."

#2. Here's how to ruin a classic poem, by being a complete dork.

#3. Here's another way to ruin a classic poem, add an 'ukulele.

...that was actually really funny.

#4. This chick demonstrates why enunciation is so important.

#5. Hangin' out with Cindy Sheehan for inspiration is a no-no.

Haha, I think I just found Strawman!

Update: On a similar theme, Beth picks the "worst song ever."

Posted by annika, Sep. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 13, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

If Edna St. Vincent Millay were alive today, it's probably even money that she'd be against the Iraq War. She was a complicated person: pacifist, socialist, activist, feminist and bisexual. Yet when World War II threatened she put aside her pacifism, and argued strongly against the isolationists. She also wrote several poems urging us to take the Nazis seriously.

Here's one. Replace "Hitler" with the contemporary height challenged dictator of your choice, and the poem's warning sounds true today.

And Then There Were None

Ten white ptarmigan
      Perching in a pine;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were nine.

Nine white ptarmigan
      Trusting in their fate;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were eight.

Eight white ptarmigan
      Putting trust in Heaven;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were seven.

Seven white ptarmigan
      In a pretty fix;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were six.

Six white ptarmigan
      Hoping to survive;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were five.

Five white ptarmigan
      Wishing they were more;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were four.

Four white ptarmigan
      Trying to agree;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were three.

Three white ptarmigan
      Feeling very few;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there were two.

Two white ptarmigan
      Cried, "It can't be done!"
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      And then there was one.

One white ptarmigan
      Looked about and blinked;
Hitler gave his solemn oath:
      The race is now extinct.

Another Millay poem from 1940, definitely worth reading is the longer "There Are No Islands Anymore." In it, Vincent chastised the Isolationists and promoted American support for England against the Nazis.

Read it here. I particularly like this stanza.

On English soil, on French terrain,
Democracy's at grips again
With forces forged to stamp it out.
This time no quarter!—since no doubt.
Not France, not England's what's involved,
Not we,—there's something to be solved
Of grave concern to free men all:
Can Freedom stand?—Must Freedom fall?

(Meantime, the tide devours the shore:
There are no islands any more)

Posted by annika, Sep. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 12, 2006

Stingray Revenge Killings

The stingray that killed Steve Irwin ignored the most important law of the jungle.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!
Here is why the wolf pack codified that rule:
A number of stingrays have been slaughtered in an apparent wave of revenge killings over the death of conservationist and television personality Steve Irwin.

Ten have been found with their tails cut off near Hervey Bay and Deception Bay in south-east Queensland.

. . .

. . . to hear that people are actually going out and killing stingrays and cutting off their tails is barbaric. It's ridiculous. Steve would really be abhorred by this whole event. It's not something that should be happening.

Article here.

Posted by annika, Sep. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 05, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

You might have seen the new poll on my sidebar. If not, go look and vote. One of the names, Captain Thunderbolt, might be unfamiliar to you. He was an Australian outlaw of the Nineteenth Century and the following poem, by Graeme Philipson, tells his story.

The Last Bushranger

Just below Uralla stands New England's southern gate
A mighty granite boulder that tells of one man's fate.
Of the bushranger called Thunderbolt, the last of that rare breed
Of desperate men without the law joined in a common creed.

Thunderbolt was Frederick Ward. The story of his life
Begins they say in Windsor town, in eighteen thirty-five.
His early life was tough and cruel, the times back then were hard
His school was on the horse's back, and in the breaker's yard.

He didn't learn to read or write, but he sure knew how to ride
Jimmy Garbutt showed him how to steal, he took it in his stride.
They took sixty head from Tocal Run, but the Troopers caught them cold
Frederick Ward was twenty-one, with ten years to rot in gaol.

They put him on to Cockatoo, an island made in hell
He set to work to work to get away, he nearly did as well.
But they caught him and they put him in a hole without the sun
Alone he waited for the day when he could make his run.

He swam one night, he got away, he went back to the bush
Across the range, to back of Bourke, he joined the westward push.
He took to the road, he learned the life of a bushranger at large
He robbed the coaches, stole the mail, while riding at the charge.

But life was hard in the sunburnt scrub, he moved back to the range
To relieve the squatter of his horse, the traveller of his change.
Thunderbolt lived outside the law, but he was honest in his way
There's a famous tale of a famous deed at Tenterfield one day.

He went boldly to the races, and looked folk up and down
He saw who won and he saw who lost, and he waited out of town.
He robbed three German bandsmen, but to show his kind concern
He left them some to get to town, and he promised he'd return.

They’d get it back if he could find the man that won the most
And by his word the very next day he lived true to his boast.
Nick Hart was the man, he was travelling north, a hundred pounds he'd won
Ward bailed him up on the border line and relieved him of the sum.

The Germans got their money back, they'd not believed their ears
Ward’s word became a legend, passed down through the years.
When a hawker came by the Rock one day the outlaw bailed him up
But he got to Uralla and raised the alarm, the constables saddled up.

Trooper Walker caught him there that day, outside of Blanche's Inn
And shot at him in the valley where Kentucky Creek begins.
Our man was on a borrowed horse, he could not outrun the law
So he left the saddle and climbed the bank, with Walker firing more.

He was cornered fair and square, but he was brave until the last
Walker cried: “surrender, man!” The outlaw saw his chance
He charged the mounted trooper, he was firing as he came
But his pistol jammed, and the trooper's final bullet found its aim.

He fell into the creek but rose again to fight his foe
He died when Walker struck him with a god-almighty blow.
That afternoon outside of town, more died than just a man
He was the last to live that outlaw’s life upon this lonely land.

All had gone before him: Morgan, Gilbert and Ben Hall
Frederick Ward, called Thunderbolt, was the last one of them all.
When he died they all died with him, it was the ending of an age
A curtain dark was drawn across that now far distant stage.

When Thunderbolt still rode the range, from Mudgee to the Downs
When Thunderbolt his name still rang, in country and in town
When Thunderbolt outrode the law, from Bourke clear to the sea
This land was very different then, from what it came to be.

Now life, they say, is civilised, there's none can do again
What Thunderbolt did years ago, when he strode across the land.
They say that life is better now the bushrangers are dead
But they like to recollect the days the squatters lived in dread.

He's buried in Uralla, where his name is famous yet
The Rock still stands, the creek still runs, where he met his death
You can have a beer and toast him in the pub that bears his name
You can stop awhile and ponder on the reasons for his fame.

And though he’s dead these hundred years, his memory still remains
Of how he rode the mountains, and how he strode the plains.
His name will live for ever more beneath those cold dark skies
The last bushranger may have gone, but the legend never dies.

Posted by annika, Sep. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 30, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

What do you think about when you go for a walk? How does the mind work? It wanders along with your feet. The things you see along the path prompt your thoughts and vice versa. The transitions are invisible, unless you're paying attention, like today's poet. When you are ready, sometime today, take a walk with A.R. Ammons around Corsons Inlet. The poem is from 1965.

Corsons Inlet

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
   the surf
             rounded a naked headland
             and returned

   along the inlet shore:

it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,
crisp in the running sand,
    some breakthroughs of sun
  but after a bit

continuous overcast:

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,
from the perpendiculars,
    straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends
          of sight:

                I allow myself eddies of meaning:
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:
   you can find
in my sayings
               swerves of action
               like the inlet's cutting edge:
       there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:

but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

in nature there are few sharp lines: there are areas of
    more or less dispersed;
disorderly orders of bayberry; between the rows
of dunes
irregular swamps of reeds
though not reeds alone, but grass bayberry, yarrow, all . . .
predominantly reeds:

I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries,
shutting out and shutting in, separating inside
       from outside: I have
       drawn no lines:

manifold events of sand
change the dune's shape that will not be the same shape

so I am willing to go along, to accept
the becoming
thought, to stake off no beginnings or ends establish
      no walls:

by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek
to undercreek: but there are no lines though
    change in that transition is clear
    as any sharpness: but "sharpness" spread out,
allowed to occur over a wider range
than mental lines can keep:

the moon was full last night: today, low tide was low:
black shoals of mussels exposed to the risk
of air
and, earlier, of sun,
waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact,
caught always in the event of change:
    a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals
    and ate
to vomiting: another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab,
picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddy
turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:

risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life: the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
         the shallows, darts to shore
                  to stab —- what? I couldn't
    see against the black mudflats—a frightened
    fiddler crab?

         the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
         fall: thousands of tree swallows
         gathering for flight:
         an order held
         in constant change: a congregation
rich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable
       as one event,
               not chaos: preparations for
flight from winter,
cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps
at the bayberries
   a perception full of wind, flight, curve,
   the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:
the "field" of action
with moving, incalculable center:

in the smaller view, order tight with shape:
blue tiny flowers on a leafless weed: carapace of crab:
snail shell:
       pulsations of order
       in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed,
broken down, transferred through membranes
to strengthen larger orders: but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together
       and against, of millions of events: this,
                so that I make
                no form of

orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override
or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain
the top of a dune,
the swallows
could take flight—some other fields of bayberry
       could enter fall
       berryless) and there is serenity:

       no arranged terror: no forcing of image, plan,
or thought:
no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:

terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities
of escape open: no route shut, except in
   the sudden loss of all routes:

       I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will
not run to that easy victory:
       still around the looser, wider forces work:
       I will try
    to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
       that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

Posted by annika, Aug. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 23, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

From the best contemporary Danish poet out there, Henrik Nordbrandt:


After having loved we lie close together
and at the same time with distance between us
like two sailing ships that enjoy so intensely
their own lines in the dark water they divide
that their hulls
are almost splitting from sheer delight
while racing, out in the blue
under sails which the night wind fills
with flower-scented air and moonlight
- without one of them ever trying
to outsail the other
and without the distance between them
lessening or growing at all.

But there are other nights, where we drift
like two brightly illuminated luxury liners
lying side by side
with the engines shut off, under a strange constellation
and without a single passenger on board:
On each deck a violin orchestra is playing
in honor of the luminous waves.
And the sea is full of old tired ships
which we have sunk in our attempt to reach each other.

Somewhat Billy Collins-esque, don't you think?

Posted by annika, Aug. 23, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 21, 2006

With Apologies To Adam Ant

I'm a friend of haile selassie
I'm a friend of mother jones
I'm a friend of jackie passey
I'm a friend of long john holmes

I'm a friend of kathy griffin
I'm a friend of clay aiken
I'm a friend of old cal ripken
I'm a friend of barbie's ken

I'm a friend of stuart smalley
I'm a friend of michael moore
I'm a friend of janey pauley
I'm a friend of daniel schorr

I'm a friend of tuning sporky
I'm a friend of ned lamont's
I'm a friend of doc kevorky
I'm a friend of the country france

I'm a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend
I'm a friend of a friend but you don't know me
I'm a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend
And if I go there tonight, can I get in free?

I'm a friend of sarah connor
I'm a friend of miles dyson
I'm a friend of the party donner
I'm a friend of andre rison

I'm a friend of molly ringwald
I'm a friend of lance armstrong
I'm a friend of what's this thing called?
I'm a friend of long duk dong

I'm a friend of frida kahlo
I'm a friend of ed asner
I'm a friend of a girl named j-lo
I'm a friend of fat bastard

I'm a friend of lindsay lohan
I'm a friend of billy gates
I'm a friend of joshie groban
I'm a friend of norman bates

I'm a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend
I'm a friend of a friend but you don't know me
I'm a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend
So can I get in tonight . . . cuz I have to pee!

I'm a friend of chelsea clinton
I'm a friend of jar jar binks
I'm a friend of hergé's tintin
I'm a friend of michael spinks

I'm a friend of debbie schlussel
I'm a friend of that crocodile
I'm a friend of simon cowell
I'm a friend of katherine heigl

I'm a friend of kathleen willey
I'm a friend of blue man crew
I'm a friend of anything silly
I'm a friend of youtube too

I'm a friend of brian boitano
I'm a friend of what's-his-face
I'm a friend of kazakhstan-o
I'm a friend of the human race

Posted by annika, Aug. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 16, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Sorry I didn't post a poem this morning. But today's find is worth waiting for, I swear.

Wendy Battin has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary poets. In a just world, she'd be a household name.

Can you tell that Battin once taught at MIT?

And the Two Give Birth to the Myriad of Things

--said Lao-tse, sage of waterfalls, who

knew how the courtly heart keeps trying the world.
Heart wants only the good: dreams like a glass

harmonica, ringing light's measures. Love like art
if art could grow from seed, unfolding the code

inside it. But what the mind has sundered
cannot stay long uncluttered. Innocent heart, I

think, good heart, it wants, wants just now good
hands to coax my shoulders loose. What are we

birthing, when one thing leads to another,
two swimming the body's heat together?

If you want to know how the Way makes
a world, desire. But if you want to know the Way,

want nothing. A tall order, either way, worse
in the wanting not to want, as if desire can only

redshift like the galaxies who fly from us, who never
knew us. The distant water insists on falling inward,

to earth, to hell with all the stars retreating around us. O
Lao-tse, o Hubble, o love. It all comes down

to the ocean, in time, singing more deeply
the farther it travels. Its bass line thrums

the floorboards, the walls, such slow decay I can't
feel the dust on my skin until he is sleeping.

Posted by annika, Aug. 16, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 09, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

This skeptical piece is by Iraqi poetess, Amal al-Jubouri; written in 2002.

Veil Of Religions

If you are One
and your teachings are One
why did you inscribe our infancy in the Torah
and adorn our youth in the Gospels
only to erase all that in your final Book?
Why did you draw those of us who acknowledge your oneness into disagreement?
Why did you multiply in us, when you are the one and only One?

Posted by annika, Aug. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 02, 2006

Odin's Day Is Poetry Day

Old Norse Poetry from the "Vellekla," an Icelandic epic of the tenth century.

Hakon the earl, so good and wise,
Let all the ancient temples rise; --
Thor's temples raised with fostering hand
That had been ruined through the land.
His valiant champions, who were slain
On battle-fields across the main,
To Thor, the thunder-god, may tell
How for the gods all turns out well.
The hardy warrior now once more
Offers the sacrifice of gore;
The shield-bearer in Loke's game
Invokes once more great Odin's name.
The green earth gladly yields her store,
As she was wont in days of yore,
Since the brave breaker of the spears
The holy shrines again uprears.
The earl has conquered with strong hand
All that lies north of Viken land:
In battle storm, and iron rain
Hakon spreads wide his sword's domain.

Posted by annika, Aug. 2, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 25, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Phil Liggett and Found Poetry

(I'm going to continue not taking poetry too seriously. Everything should be laughed at sometime.)

Just as Andres Cantor is The Voice of futból to the Spanish-speaking world, Phil Liggett is The Voice of cycling to the English speaking world. If you ever watch a major race on OLN, odds are it wil be called by Phil Liggett (and his partner, Paul-somebody, but who cares about him?).

It's not his accent or his almost-encyclopeadic knowledge of cycling that makes him The Voice, nor is it his interaction with Paul while announcing a race. It's the words he chooses and the cadence at which he speaks, along with the emotion he brings to his commentating. It almost sounds like...well, like poetry.

Probably because it is. Good poetry conveys emotion as well as meaning, and there is emotion in his voice and in his word choice that can relate more to you than just mere words do. And by laying those words out in a form common to poetry, you have Found Poetry.

Sometime last year, Doug Donaldson collected a boatload of Liggett quotes, broke them up from prose into stanzas, broke the stanzas further with some e.e. cummings-like layouts, and collected them into a book entitled Dancing on the Pedals: The Found Poetry of Phil Liggett, The Voice of Cycling. Yeah, found poetry that's a bitch of a lot of fun to read.

(Please note the multiple periods in two of the following poems are not part of the poems as published. They're necessary to simulate the formatting of the poem. Yeah, my HTML skillz are wanting.)

............. Come to Paris
....................... The
....................... Eiffel
...................... Tower
................... didn't throw
..................... a shadow
............. over this .... race for
.......... the man .......... in Yellow
Stage 23, 1986

I love the way the layout of the words bring to mind an image of the Eiffell Tower. Lewis Carroll used a similar format in The Mouse's Tale, setting the words so that they form a picture of the subject. Beautiful.

Room Service
The Yellow Jersey will go to his hotel,
his room.
Stage 10, 2000

In three simple lines, using eleven lonely words, Mr. Liggett captures the solitude the leader of the race must feel. It is, indeed, lonely at the top.

Finally, Mr. Liggett gives us his version of a tragic epic poem:

Eck Aced I
No attacks of note all day
And now we're onto the Champs-Elysées and
The attacks have started.
Viatcheslav Ekimov, former world champion of the amateurs
.... and now, of course, the defending world champion
.... very shortly
.... if he rides in the world championship of the pursuit
.... over five thousand meters.
Let's just see how fast he is here.
This is a tremendous race for the line.
The field are boring down on him
he's got a real good chance though.
He winds it up.
.... He won a stage like this last year
.... when he went in the last couple of kilometers.
He keeps looking over his shoulder
that's an elementary mistake
.... when you're out in front
.... you don't look where the rest are
.... because there isn't much you can do about them.
You just go as fast as you can.
Across the Place de Concorde here, now, over the cobble-
he'll flick right very shortly then he'll see the finish here
and he looks good;
he looks really good
Ekimov could be picking off one of the most coveted stages
in any Tour de France
.... to win on the Champs-Elysées.
Stage 21, 1992
Ekimov will lose to teammate
Olaf Ludwig

Oh, the tragedy! Ekimov struggles mightily, but it's all for naught: Not until the poem is over do we learn Ekimov did not win the stage!

UPDATE: annika has posted Found Poetry in the past! I still prefer Phil Liggett's.

Posted by Victor, Jul. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 19, 2006

Wenesday is Poetry Day: Nonsense Poems

(NOTE: This will not be as detailed as I hoped it would be, because lately, as I'm sure regular readers have noticed, mu.nu has been up and down like the bloody Assyrian Empire.)

Nonsense poems are poems as graffiti. While a good one is beautiful, a lot of them are pretty bad and an eysore. A good nonsense poem is fun to read--no serious interpretation is necessary. There are no hidden meanings, no great truths hidden in a true nonsense poem, as a nonsense poem is an exercise in sound and meter.

And because of this, I suspect writing a good nonsense poem would be extremely difficult for an experienced poet. Now, don't get me wrong--the sound and the meter is the easy part. The difficult part is making it read like real poetry, and not just a mish-mash of...well, sounds in a certain beat.

The best and most beautiful of all nonsense poems is, without a doubt, Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky and there's not much to be said by way of introduction:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Jabberwocky flows like a gentle stream, using nonsense words that seem and sound like real words (in fact, some of them may be adaptions of obsolete English words, and others have made it into the vernacular). At the same time, there is a story in there...somewhere. Alice herself has the best comment on this poem: "It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!...Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!" As well a good nonsense poem should.

By contrast, Ogden Nash (whose poetry was mostly humorous in nature) tried his hand at nonsense and it comes off like a gawd-awful ripoff of Jabberwocky:


The sharrot scudders nights in the quastron now,
The dorlim slinks undeceded in the grost,
Appetency lights the corb of the guzzard now,
The ancient beveldric is otley lost.

Treduty flees like a darbit along the drace now,
Collody lollops belutedly over the slawn.
The bloodbound bitterlitch bays the ostrous moon now,
For yesterday's bayable majicity is flunky gone.

Make way, make way, the preluge is scarly nonce now,
Make way, I say, the gronderous Demiburge comes,
His blidless veins shall ye joicily rejugulate now,
And gollify him from 'twixt his protecherous gums.

I'm sorry, but this is unreadable. I'm cringing by the fourth word, moaning by the third line, and somewhere in the second stanza my eyes explode and I run away screaming and tearing my hair out. While the meter seems derived from Jabberwocky the beat is off just enough to make me want to scream. The nonsense words are truly nonsense and forced, and they sound too harsh to make this poem even vaguely fun to read. At three stanzas and twelve lines this is waaay too long. There's absolutely no hint of a story in there. It's not very pretty, it's impossible to understand, and my head is not filled with ideas. Man oh Manischewitz, this poem sucks.

Posted by Victor, Jul. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 13, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Joe Haldeman

Victor here, off from work and a bit groggy still from anaesthetic. Long story.

I'm sorry annika is having computer difficulties and I hope she doesn't mind my jumping the gun. If she does, I'm blaming the anaesthetic, but Wednesday's just arent' the same without poetry.

I also blame the anaesthetic for any typos and major errors in grammar.

Joe Haldeman is a Viet Nam vet and science-fiction writer whose first novel, The Forever War, won both the Hugo and Nebula awards as best SF novel of the year. He's written many, many SF novels and short stories since, and also a fair bit of poetry.

His works frequently include military themes, and this is reflected in his poetry. Of course, I can't find one poem of his I'm particularly looking for; I fear the book it was in may have been given away during a move. It's a shame: It didn't really rhyme; instead, words were repeated in a specific pattern which gave it the quality of a chant. It's a shame you won't be reading it today.

Instead, I'll present one of his science fiction poems. As far as I know, Mr. Haldeman might be the first to combine science fiction and poetry. This particular example tells a story--a science fiction story, to be sure, but a story nevertheless, and to me it seems this story could only be told as a poem. It was linked from his website and also has a copyright notice at the bottom. Because of that, I present only the first stanza (I don't think the anaesthetic defense would protect annika) and I hope you click the link to finish the poem. I find it's quite touching.

Eighteen years old, October eleventh

Drunk for the first time in her life,
she tossed her head in a horsey laugh
and that new opal gift sailed off her sore earlobe,
in a graceful parabola,
pinged twice on the stone porch floor,
and rolled off to hide behind the rose bushes.

Read the rest of 'Eighteen years old, October eleventh'

Posted by Victor, Jul. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 05, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

On this day after Independence Day - I hope you had a good one! - here is a snapshot of America in 1860, by her greatest poet, Walt Whitman:

It's long. But this is your first day back at work after a long weekend. You don't want to start working yet. Take your time and read it through. Whitman can transport you to another time and place.

American Feuillage

AMERICA always!
Always our own feuillage!
Always Florida’s green peninsula! Always the priceless delta of Louisiana! Always the cotton-fields of Alabama and Texas!
Always California’s golden hills and hollows—and the silver mountains of New Mexico! Always soft-breath’d Cuba!
Always the vast slope drain’d by the Southern Sea—inseparable with the slopes drain’d by the Eastern and Western Seas;
The area the eighty-third year of These States—the three and a half millions of square miles;
The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay-coast on the main—the thirty thousand miles of river navigation,
The seven millions of distinct families, and the same number of dwellings—Always these, and more, branching forth into numberless branches;
Always the free range and diversity! always the continent of Democracy!
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, travelers, Kanada, the snows;
Always these compact lands—lands tied at the hips with the belt stringing the huge oval lakes;
Always the West, with strong native persons—the increasing density there—the habitans, friendly, threatening, ironical, scorning invaders;
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscuously done at all times,
All characters, movements, growths—a few noticed, myriads unnoticed,
Through Mannahatta’s streets I walking, these things gathering;
On interior rivers, by night, in the glare of pine knots, steamboats wooding up;
Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna, and on the valleys of the Potomac and Rappahannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and Delaware;
In their northerly wilds, beasts of prey haunting the Adirondacks, the hills—or lapping the Saginaw waters to drink;
In a lonesome inlet, a sheldrake, lost from the flock, sitting on the water, rocking silently;
In farmers’ barns, oxen in the stable, their harvest labor done—they rest standing—they are too tired;
Afar on arctic ice, the she-walrus lying drowsily, while her cubs play around;
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail’d—the farthest polar sea, ripply, crystalline, open, beyond the floes;
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the tempest dashes;
On solid land, what is done in cities, as the bells all strike midnight together;
In primitive woods, the sounds there also sounding—the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther, and the hoarse bellow of the elk;
In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead Lake—in summer visible through the clear waters, the great trout swimming;
In lower latitudes, in warmer air, in the Carolinas, the large black buzzard floating slowly, high beyond the tree tops,
Below, the red cedar, festoon’d with tylandria—the pines and cypresses, growing out of the white sand that spreads far and flat;
Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing plants, parasites, with color’d flowers and berries, enveloping huge trees,
The waving drapery on the live oak, trailing long and low, noiselessly waved by the wind;
The camp of Georgia wagoners, just after dark—the supper-fires, and the cooking and eating by whites and negroes,
Thirty or forty great wagons—the mules, cattle, horses, feeding from troughs,
The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old sycamore-trees—the flames—with the black smoke from the pitch-pine, curling and rising;
Southern fishermen fishing—the sounds and inlets of North Carolina’s coast—the shad-fishery and the herring-fishery—the large sweep-seines—the windlasses on shore work’d by horses—the clearing, curing, and packing-houses;
Deep in the forest, in piney woods, turpentine dropping from the incisions in the trees—There are the turpentine works,
There are the negroes at work, in good health—the ground in all directions is cover’d with pine straw:
—In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the coalings, at the forge, by the furnace-blaze, or at the corn-shucking;
In Virginia, the planter’s son returning after a long absence, joyfully welcom’d and kiss’d by the aged mulatto nurse;
On rivers, boatmen safely moor’d at night-fall, in their boats, under shelter of high banks,
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the banjo or fiddle—others sit on the gunwale, smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing in the Great Dismal Swamp—there are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, the plenteous moss, the cypress tree, and the juniper tree;
—Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target company from an excursion returning home at evening—the musket-muzzles all bear bunches of flowers presented by women;
Children at play—or on his father’s lap a young boy fallen asleep, (how his lips move! how he smiles in his sleep!)
The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of the Mississippi—he ascends a knoll and sweeps his eye around;
California life—the miner, bearded, dress’d in his rude costume—the stanch California friendship—the sweet air—the graves one, in passing, meets, solitary, just aside the horsepath;
Down in Texas, the cotton-field, the negro-cabins—drivers driving mules or oxen before rude carts—cotton bales piled on banks and wharves;
Encircling all, vast-darting, up and wide, the American Soul, with equal hemispheres—one Love, one Dilation or Pride;
—In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the aborigines—the calumet, the pipe of good-will, arbitration, and indorsement,
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun and then toward the earth,
The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted faces and guttural exclamations,
The setting out of the war-party—the long and stealthy march,
The single-file—the swinging hatchets—the surprise and slaughter of enemies;
—All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of These States—reminiscences, all institutions,
All These States, compact—Every square mile of These States, without excepting a particle—you also—me also,
Me pleas’d, rambling in lanes and country fields, Paumanok’s fields,
Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow butterflies, shuffling between each other, ascending high in the air;
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the fall traveler southward, but returning northward early in the spring;
The country boy at the close of the day, driving the herd of cows, and shouting to them as they loiter to browse by the road-side;
The city wharf—Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, San Francisco,
The departing ships, when the sailors heave at the capstan;
—Evening—me in my room—the setting sun,
The setting summer sun shining in my open window, showing the swarm of flies, suspended, balancing in the air in the centre of the room, darting athwart, up and down, casting swift shadows in specks on the opposite wall, where the shine is;
The athletic American matron speaking in public to crowds of listeners;
Males, females, immigrants, combinations—the copiousness—the individuality of The States, each for itself—the money-makers;
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the windlass, lever, pulley—All certainties,
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity,
In space, the sporades, the scatter’d islands, the stars—on the firm earth, the lands, my lands;
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I become a part of that, whatever it is;
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slowly flapping, with the myriads of gulls wintering along the coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with pelicans breeding;
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the Brazos, the Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan, or the Osage, I with the spring waters laughing and skipping and running;
Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of Paumanok, I, with parties of snowy herons wading in the wet to seek worms and aquatic plants;
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, from piercing the crow with its bill, for amusement—And I triumphantly twittering;
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn to refresh themselves—the body of the flock feed—the sentinels outside move around with erect heads watching, and are from time to time reliev’d by other sentinels—And I feeding and taking turns with the rest;
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, corner’d by hunters, rising desperately on his hind-feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs as sharp as knives—And I, plunging at the hunters, corner’d and desperate;
In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store-houses, and the countless workmen working in the shops,
And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and no less in myself than the whole of the Mannahatta in itself,
Singing the song of These, my ever united lands—my body no more inevitably united, part to part, and made one identity, any more than my lands are inevitably united, and made ONE IDENTITY;
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great Pastoral Plains;
Cities, labors, death, animals, products, war, good and evil—these me,
These affording, in all their particulars, endless feuillage to me and to America, how can I do less than pass the clew of the union of them, to afford the like to you?
Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine leaves, that you also be eligible as I am?
How can I but, as here, chanting, invite you for yourself to collect bouquets of the incomparable feuillage of These States?

Posted by annika, Jul. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

June 28, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Vogon Poetry II

You know when I post a poem at night, it means I've either been really busy, the blog's been acting up, or I just couldn't find any inspired choices. Today was a perfect storm of all three reasons.

Since the most important news item of the day was the Star Jones bullshit - more important than Korean missiles or Iranian bombs or terrorist sleeper cells or treasonous papers and politicians or Iraqi amnesty or Israel kicking ass.

Star Jones, Star Jones, Star Jones!

Star Jones, Star Jones, that's what's important. But how does one best glean clues about Star Jones's mysterious exit friom the View? One need look no further than the newest Viewchik. And how better to stay informed about Star Jones lore than by reading some more bad Vogon poetry from the poet laureate of the Vogons herself, Rosie O'Donnell.

Star View

there is drama at the view
regis went on yesterday
and said
hey there is an elephant in the living room

no one likes to pretend
as if it were real

there comes a point
where u become complicit

star jones had weight loss surgery
she had part of her stomach bypassed
that is how she lost 1/2 herself

she refuses to say this
which is her right
but we do not have to pretend
we do not know

any fatty will tell u
it is nearly impossible to go
from where she was
to where she is
without medical intervention

dats da fact jack
and it is ok
talk to ur doctor
decide for yourself
if this is the option for u
by all means do it

it is hard to be fat
u get tired
ur knees hurt
people stare at u
think u less then
u feel less then

when i see one of r own
fly away from planet plus
i wave with misty eyes
proud astonished worried

we have a high recidivism rate
we us r tribe
sis and bros

so star shrinks b4 our eyes
we know the truth
but nod as she talks about
pilates and will power

i am sure star jones
beneathe the beyonce bravado
is a scared lil girl
who grew her body big
strong and safe

there is no delete button
in real life

george bush
talking about the success
in iraq
with star like showmanship
he thinking we still believe
what we know is not true

we dont buy it

peace to star jones
every wave hits the shore

Rosie wisdom, can't live with it, can't live without it.

Posted by annika, Jun. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

June 21, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

I hate spiders. This morning after my shower, I grabbed some underwear out of the drawer, and as I was putting it on a spider fell out of it and landed on the floor. How does a spider get into the underwear drawer? And no, I do not live in the basement.

I hate spiders because they are sneaky. At least a bee will let you know it's there before it stings you. But spiders are always crawling around where you can't see them. They're like the viet cong.

I hate spiders almost as much as I hate sappy poems.


by Janet Bruno

Spiderlings hatch from eggs.
Each one has eight tiny legs.
A spider has more eyes than you.
Most have eight, and you have two.
A spider has two body parts.
Across its web it quickly darts.
From a spider's spinnerets
Sticky spider silk jets.
Spiders feel the frantic tugs,
Of their favorite food; it's bugs!


Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

June 14, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Hear Johnny Cash reading this poem in in his inimitable voice here. It was a hit record in 1974.

Ragged Old Flag

I walked through a county courthouse square,
On a park bench an old man was sitting there.
I said, "Your old courthouse is kinda run down."
He said, "Naw, it'll do for our little town."
I said, "Your flagpole has leaned a little bit,
And that's a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it."

He said, "Have a seat", and I sat down.
"Is this the first time you've been to our little town?"
I said, "I think it is." He said, "I don't like to brag,
But we're kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag.

"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key
Sat watching it writing 'Oh Say Can You See.'
And it got a bad rip in New Orleans
With Packingham and Jackson tuggin' at its seams.


"And it almost fell at the Alamo
Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on though.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville,
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag.

"On Flanders Field in World War I
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun.
She turned blood red in World War II.
She hung limp and low a time or two.
She was in Korea and Vietnam.
She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.

"She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,
And now they've about quit waving her back here at home.
In her own good land she's been abused--
She's been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused.

"And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land.
And she's getting threadbare and wearing thin,
But she's in good shape for the shape she's in.
'Cause she's been through the fire before,
And I believe she can take a whole lot more.

"So we raise her up every morning,
We take her down every night.
We don't let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thought I do like to brag,
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag."

Happy Flag Day!

Posted by annika, Jun. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

June 07, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Ginsberg

As Tony noted, Saturday was Allen Ginsberg's birthday. There must be a Ginsberg bug going around because Strawman also suggested a poem by the great one. I can't abide his political stuff, but Ginsberg is a genuine literary icon, and a fearless poet. He's also an interesting guy to boot. Here is a perfect poem for today.

A Supermarket in California

      What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
      In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
      What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?

      I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
      I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
      I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
      We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

      Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
      (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
      Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be

      Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
      Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

"Shopping for images," what artist can't identify with that line?

Posted by annika, Jun. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 31, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

I blogged about starlings once before. I guess it's time to do it again.

If you love birds like I do, check out Joelle Biele's poetry.

To a Group of Starlings

All day you’ve chased the nuthatch, the titmouse,
the purple finches in the trees, and now
you strut down the street like overgrown boys,
raccoon coats hiding your matchstick legs,
the sidewalk your grand runway, and you’re
boys on newspaper boxes, little drummers
playing buckets and pails, shoe-shine men calling,
hustlers, shiny watches, the old shell game.
Bird of midnight sheen, of oil and ink,
of trashcans in the alley, you’re
my hard-times bird, my hand’s shadow.
You swarm over the roofs like thought
before it falls, you shoot from the furnace
with the coming rain, dirty stars, faraway flames.

Posted by annika, May. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 28, 2006

Fifth Fleet Poetry


Here's a little piece of doggerel I came across, which will probably only appeal to my fellow aviation nuts. I found it in Clash of the Carriers, a great book I'm reading about the First Battle of the Philippine Sea (otherwise known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot).

Oh Mother, dear Mother, take down that blue star,
Replace it with one that is gold.
Your son is a Helldiver pilot;
He'll never be thirty years old.
The people who work for Curtis
   are frequently seen good and drunk.
One day with an awful hangover,
   they mustered and designed that clunk.

Navy aircrews nicknamed the Curtis SB2C the "son of a bitch 2nd class." It was not popular.

Check out the animation section in this link. If you follow the "planes and commanders" link, then click on "radio newscast of the battle," there's a pretty cool vintage audio broadcast.

Posted by annika, May. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & Poetry

May 27, 2006

Ben Franklin Rap

Check out Smallholder, layin' down a Ben Franklin rap over at Naked Villainy.

Posted by annika, May. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & On The Blogosphere & Poetry

May 25, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Today's poem is by Sugawara Takesue no Musume, 11th Century Japanese poetess.


Ah me ah me

Ah, me! Ah, me! My weary doom to labour here in the Palace!
Seven good wine-jars have I - and three in my province.
There where they stand I have hung straight-stemmed gourds of the finest -
They turn to the West when the East wind blows,
They turn to the East when the West wind blows,
They turn to the North when the South wind blows,
They turn to the South when the North wind blows.
And there I sit watching them turning and turning forever-
Oh, my gourds! Oh, my wine-jars!

Posted by annika, May. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 17, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Three poems by Randy Jackson, via Popwatch:

Yo, yo

Yo, yo.
Yo, yo.
Amazing, amazing.
Loved the jacket.
Loved you.

Yo, baby, Elliott

Yo, baby, Elliott
So check it out, dawg
So check it out, man
I hated
Check it out
Did not like the arrangement

Feel the angst in this next one:

Yo, Taylor, man

Yo, Taylor, man
I don't know what's goin' on, man
I don't know if it's me tonight or whatever
But dude, that was completely the wrong song
For me
For you
I didn't get it
It wasn't half as good as the original
It felt like weird karaoke to me
I don't know what's happenin' here
I don't know what's goin' on here

Plus a bonus poem by Paula Abdul:

Even Paris Bennett Gets the Blues

I felt like it was kind of a struggle
For you to find that place
Where you own the stage
Like you always do
Week after week


Posted by annika, May. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 03, 2006

Wednesday Night Is Poetry Night


Thirty-six years ago, what has become known as the Kent State Massacre took place.

On May 4, 1970 members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students. The impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close. H. R. Haldeman, a top aide to President Richard Nixon, suggests the shootings had a direct impact on national politics. In The Ends of Power, Haldeman (1978) states that the shootings at Kent State began the slide into Watergate, eventually destroying the Nixon administration. Beyond the direct effects of the May 4th, the shootings have certainly come to symbolize the deep political and social divisions that so sharply divided the country during the Vietnam War era.
The most famous poetic response to the incident is of course Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio." Whenever I'm reminded of Kent State, it's Neil Young's opening guitar notes that immediately pop into my head. In the liner notes to the legendary compilation album Decade, Neil Young writes:
It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. My best CSNY cut. . . . David Crosby cried after this take.
Other musicians as diverse as Dave Brubeck, John Denver, Yes and the Beach Boys have all composed works inspired by the tragedy.

On the web, I found a couple of poems dedicated to the Kent State shootings. They range from the ironic to the angry. Allen Ginsberg references the incident in his poem "Hadda Be Playin' On A Jukebox," which was later set to music by Rage Against The Machine.

The most interesting poem to me was the one published immediately after the shooting in the Soviet propaganda newspaper Pravda. Over on our side of the Iron Curtain, the event instilled greater momentum to the peace movement. But for most adherents, it always remained a peace movement, except for those on the radical fringe.

On the Soviet side, the incident seems to have been a call to arms, judging by the crazy warlike imagery in this propaganda poem. Also take note of the clumsy materialist stereotypes of American youth by the communist poet.

Flowers And Bullets

by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
(English translation by Anthony Kahn)

Of course:
Bullets don't like people
   who love flowers,
They're jealous ladies, bullets,
   short on kindness.
Allison Krause, nineteen years old,
   you're dead
for loving flowers.

When, thin and open as the pulse
   of conscience,
you put a flower in a rifle's mouth
   and said,
"Flowers are better than bullets,"
was pure hope speaking.

Give no flowers to a state
   that outlaws truth;
such states reciprocate
   with cynical, cruel gifts,
and your gift, Allison Krause,
was the bullet
   that blasted the flower.

Let every apple orchard blossom black,
   black in mourning.
Ah, how the lilac smells!
   You're without feeling.
Nothing, Nixon said it:
   "You're a bum."
All the dead are bums.
   It's not their crime.
You lie in the grass,
   a melting candy in your mouth,
done with dressing in new clothes,
   done with books.

You used to be a student.
      You studied fine arts.
But other arts exist,
      of blood and terror,
and headsmen with a genuius for the axe.

Who was Hitler?
      A cubist of gas chambers.
In the name of all flowers
      I curse your works,
you architect of lies,
      maestros of murder!
Mothers of the world whisper
      "O God, God!"
and seers are afraid
      to look ahead.
Death dances rock-and-roll upon the bones
      of Vietnam, Cambodia -
On what stage is it booked to dance tomorrow?

Rise up, Tokyo girls,
      Roman boys,
take up your flowers
      against the common foe.
Blow the world's dandelions up
      into a blizzard!
Flowers, to war!
      Punish the punishers!
Tulip after tulip,
      carnation after carnation
rip out of your tidy beds in anger,
choke every lying throat
      with earth and root!
You, jasmine, clog
      the spinning blades of mine-layers.

   block the cross-hair sights,
   drive your sting into the lenses,
Rise up, lily of the Ganges,
      lotus of the Nile,
stop the roaring props
   of planes pregnant
      with the death of chidren!
Roses, don't be proud
   to find yourselves sold
      at higher prices.
Nice as it is to touch a tender cheek,
thrust a sharper thorn a little deeper
   into the fuel tanks of bombers.

Of course:
   Bullets are stronger than flowers.
Flowers aren't enough to overwhelm them.
   Stems are too fragile,
   petals are poor armor.
But a Vietnam girl of Allison's age,
   taking a gun in her hands
is the armed flower
   of the people's wrath!
If even flowers rise,
   then we've had enough
   of playing games with history.

Young America,
   tie up the killer's hands.
Let there be an escalation of truth
to overwhelm the escalating lie
   crushing people's lives!
Flowers, make war!
   Defend what's beautiful!
Drown the city streets and country roads
   like the flood of an army advancing
and in the ranks of people and flowers
   arise, murdered Allison Krause,
Immortal of the age,
   Thorn-Flower of protest!

It's comical. Despite some nice imagery (the melting candy), this poet completely missed the point. I'm not sure the communists were able to grasp the whole "peace and love" thing. Nor, I suppose, did the communist sympathizers over here understand the true nature of their revolutionary idols. They still don't actually.

Correction: I must apologize and amend what I said up there regarding the poet. When I wrote this last night, I cut and pasted the name Yevgeny Yevtushenko without really thinking, although the name sounded familiar. This morning John's comment inspired me to look up his stuff, which I was able to do, since I have a very fine book of contemporary world poetry, which Shelly sent me last year.

The truth is, the poet was not some unknown communist hack for Pravda, which I thought at first. Yevtushenko is one of the best known and controversial Russian poets of the twentieth century. Here's his Wikipedia entry.

Reading "Flowers And Bullets" alongside Yevtushenko's more famous protest poems like "Babii Yar" (which laments the Nazi execution of 96,000 Jews near Kiev) or "The Heirs Of Stalin," I was able to place the above poem in better context. The poet had a history of using his art to condemn atrocity.

That's what happens when you critique the poet instead of the poem. A common mistake. But I still stand by my criticism of the poem, which really fails to understand the American "peace movement" of the '60s and '70s. And it really was a socialist propaganda piece, which urged violent retaliation against a capitalist enemy. Whether Yevtushenko really held the same sentiment, or whether he just knew how to market a poem, is an open question I suppose.

Posted by annika, May. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 26, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Something different this week. Fifty-three years ago tomorrow, Sylvia Plath attended a party at which W.H. Auden gave a reading. Using her own distinctive style, Plath described the great poet in her Journal.*

To set the scene, Plath was 20 years old, and a junior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Auden was 46 years old and a visiting professor at Smith, although I don't know whether Plath took his class. 1953 was also the year that Auden moved in with his longtime companion, the poet Chester Kallman.

The party took place at the home of Sylvia Plath's English professor, 66 year old Elizabeth A. Drew. That semester, Plath was enrolled in Drew's Modern English Poetry class.

Finally, a bit of foreshadowing. Four months after this party, Plath would survive the first of her many suicide attempts. Despite missing a semester after her near overdose of sleeping pills, she graduated in 1955, summa cum laude. She would go on to study at Cambridge, meet and marry poet Ted Hughes, and the rest is history.

But here's what she thought of Auden:

April 27 [1953] - Listen and shut up, oh, ye of little faith. On one certain evening in a certain year 1953 a certain complex of pitched tensions, physiological urges, and mental dragonflies combined to fill one mortal imperfect Eve with a fierce full rightness, force and determination corresponding to the ecstasy experienced by the starving saint on the desert who feels the crackling cool drops of God on his tongue and sees the green angels sprouting up like dandelion greens, prolific and infinitely unexpected.

. . .

Tonight, spring, plural, fertile, offering up clean green leaf whorls to a soft moon covered with fuzz-fractured clouds, and god, the listening to Auden read in Drew's front living room, and vivid questioning, darting scintillant wit. My Plato! pedestrian I! And Drew, (exhuberant exquisitely frail intelligent Elizabeth) saying, "Now that is really difficult."

Auden tossing his big head back with a twist of wide ugly grinning lips, his sandy hair, his coarse tweedy brown jacket, his burlap-textured voice and the crackling brilliant utterances -- the naughty mischievous boy genius, and the inconsistent white hairless skin of his legs, and the short puffy stubbed fingers -- and the carpet slippers -- beer he drank, and smoked Lucky Strikes in a black holder, gesticulating with a white new cigarette in his hands, holding matches, talking in a gravelly incisive tone about how Caliban is the natural bestial projection, Ariel the creative imaginative, and all the intricate lyrical abstruosities of their love and cleavage, art and life, the mirror and the sea. God, god, the stature of the man. And next week, in trembling audacity, I approach him with a sheaf of poems. Oh, god, if this is life, half heard, glimpsed, smelled, with beer and cheese sandwiches and the god-eyed tall-minded ones, let me never go blind, or get shut off from the agony of learning, the horrible pain of trying to understand.

Tonight: the unforgettable snatching of toothpicks and olive pits from the tables of the ambrosial gods!

Plath's journal entries from this period do not strike me as being written by someone who was particularly depressed. On the contrary, what I get is a sense of her overwhelming curiosity, ambition, and talent.

* The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath, pp. 179-180.

Posted by annika, Apr. 26, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 19, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Is there any subject that can't be examined by a poet? Here we have biology, in a Shakespearian sonnet by English poet John Masefield (1878–1967):

What am I, Life?

What am I, Life? A thing of watery halt
Held in cohesion by unresting cells,
Which work they know not why, which never halt,
Myself unwitting where their Master dwells
I do not bid them, yet they toil, they spin
A world which uses me as I use them;
Nor do I know which end or which begin
Nor which to praise, which pamper, which condemn.
So, like a marvel in a marvel set,
I answer to the vast, as wave by wave
The sea of air goes over, dry or wet,
Or the full moon comes swimming from her cave,
Or the great sun comes forth: this myriad I
Tingles, not knowing how, yet wondering why.

Poet suggested by Casca.

Posted by annika, Apr. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 12, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

You may remember the great KISS haiku contest of 2005. The winner of that contest was Cameron who used to have a blog called Way Off Base. Now he's blogging with his brother at Woody's Woundup.

Anyways, I once called Cameron "the Mark Russell of the Blogosphere." Of course nobody knows who Mark Russell is, so it's not much of a compliment, if it ever was one. But Cameron is still writing poetry, and I loved his latest one so much that I chose it for this week's selection.

On the Morning of A Day Off, A Little Wind and Rain

An old, missed friend wakes me up, politely
Tapping my window with soft fingers,
Whispering the new stories she has learned.
And I’m all ears, warm under my blanket,
Sitting up with my back against the cool wall,
Listening, trying to find a rhythm
In her words, perpetually relieved
To never discern any noticeable pattern.
It would ruin the instance if I did;
Like hearing a drumbeat put to an aria.

There’s no sorrow, no worsted gray buttoned up
Over the colorful promise of her mysteries.
Beneath my closed eyes, her words become
An intimate canvas primed and waiting for
Some improvised brush of . . .
Life, she taps on my window. Laughter. Love.
Each flurry of words brings me
Closer to new than I have been in years.

My window’s open; she enters on the breeze.
Such a scent she brings, clean and real,
The scent wild things know after the snows melt,
And with her comes the lush green certainty
Of something taking root in me,
Like a seed pushed into readied earth by
Some wise old farmer in the North Forty,
And I imagine that when my friend and I
Meet again in the spring, in a rambling conversation
About wild sprouts and raucous blooms,
I’ll be glad then that I don’t now close my window
Just to avoid her random, friendly kisses.

It doesn’t rain enough in Southern California.

Cameron writes an occasional sonnet too, and for his latest effort he was rewarded by by being published in the Moorpark Review Creative Arts Journal. This one is real nice. Click on the link to "So we are all of us abandoned Lears" at this page.

Posted by annika, Apr. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 05, 2006

NPM At Sheila's

Sheila is doing National Poetry Month the right way, at The Sheila Variations. Go over there and just keep scrolling. She's posted a few from some of my favorites: O'Hara, Bishop, Dickinson, and Oliver, along with some fantastic poetry that I hadn't been introduced to yet.

Posted by annika, Apr. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Vogon Poetry

In honor of April Fool's day, lets do something different.


Ever wonder what Vogon poetry really sounds like? Check out Rosie O'Donnell's blog. Here's a particularly bad selection from yesterday:


so katie mcphee is linda ederish

yo yo dog
youuuu look sssssexyhottt grrreat job
i hate country music

does kenny rogers think
he looks better this way
alien from planet hollywood
almost didnt recognize him

i will reload the art movie
with a non i tune tune

i am 1/2 way thru
craig fergusons novel
i triple love it
confederacy of dunces
meets geek love
in a dave eggers universe
buy it

a lot of press
gma tomorrow
and i am done
going in and out
of celebville
with an ez pass

there is much i miss
everything barbra
touring again
thank god
i live in a paralell universe
1 where noone spells write
ross the intern
jays colin

colin was 10
yr one
belted ethel merman
had me at hello

he now works for
everytime i see his simle
i remember the magic

ryan seacrest just said
to simon cowell

5 am
hair and make up
i am getting too old for this

there is a scary kid
talking to larry king
about internet porn

journalism in america

the ask ro
is highly addictive

On second thought, that is much worse than Vogon poetry. Rosie must be one of the Azgoths of Kria. Where does she get her inspiration? She must have composed that piece while shitting out a particularly large chunk of constipatii, i think. Gawdawful.

Thanks to Victor, for the suggestion.

Posted by annika, Apr. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: Poetry

March 29, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Any poem that contains the following bit of wisdom is probably worth a look:

. . . you, Hangover,
are the opposite of Orgasm. Certainly
you go on too long and in your grip
one thinks, How to have you never again?

From "Ode To Hangover," by Dean Young, which you can find at Slate.com. It's supposed to have a link whereby you can listen to the author reading it, but the link don't work on my machine.

Posted by annika, Mar. 29, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

March 15, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The following poem is ascribed to St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, born a Roman citizen in Scotland in the year 387 and died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland on March 17, 493.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

According to tradition, St. Patrick composed this prayer before travelling to convert Ireland's pagan king. Along the way, assassins were set to murder him but as he said the prayer, the attackers mistook his party for a herd of deer. Thus it is also known as "The Deer's Cry."

Thomas Cahill doubts that the poem was written by St. Patrick himself, instead dating it to the 7th or 8th Century.

The earliest expression of European vernacular poetry, it is, in attitude, the work of a Christian Druid, a man of both faith and magic. Its feeling is entirely un-Augustinian; but it is this feeling that will go on to animate the best poetry of the Middle Ages. If Patrick did not write it (at least in its current form), it surely takes its inspiration from him. For in this cosmic incantation, the anarticulate outcast who wept for slaves, aided common men in difficulty, and loved sunrise and sea at last finds his voice. Appropriately, it is an Irish voice.
[Cahill, How The Irish Saved Civilization, p.116.]

Posted by annika, Mar. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

March 08, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here's a really wonderful debut work by Publicola. It's meter is very musical. Guess I'll have to start calling him the "Bard of Ballistics" now. Or maybe Mr. "Terror Dactyl."

The Post

Even through the glove I felt it seeping from the metal till my bones ache
Just slightly
The cold is on the metal; the wood, then on my cheek
The almost perfect roundness close to my eye is lost
The bite of the leather in my flesh disappears
As is the cold on my skin and in my bones
Only a tiny column imposing itself on the object I desire to reach has focus
The cold doesn't matter
The feel of the wood doesn't matter
Metal doesn’t matter
The weight of the lever I'm pushing towards myself means nothing
Only the column
The rectangle I know, the rectangle I need
The pillar that my will rests upon
It alone is my world at the same time it isn't alone
The lever lightens, yet becomes the hardest part of my world
Still I only know the rectangle
Nothing else matters 'cept for seeing that little stanchion where I will it to be seen
I don't even notice the break, like a rod
Not like a glass rod but still a distinct and noticeable breaking happens
Yet I don't notice
I only see the rectangle
I know the wood is pushing me back
I hear the muffled boom through my heart as well as my ears
But I only see the rectangle
Rising slightly, lifting itself momentarily above my desire only to settle back down to it again
The metallic shucking of the mechanism tells me it's ready again; that I'm ready again
But there's only that rectangle standing between me and my desire
Bridging the distance between me and my desire
I know the device; I've cleaned it, repaired it, cared for it
I've broken it so that I could build it again
It will not fail me
I can only fail myself
But that rectangle holds my faith, my confidence, my certainty that I won't
It rises again as the boom rolls over me
The boom that I hear but pay no mind to
My heart races, my breath begs for release
I only know the rectangle
Six more times metal slides across metal
Wood heats; expands
Gasses slave to my design; working for me more than against me
Then I heed something other than the rectangle
A ping
A cold metallic sound to others, to me a thing of beauty and sadness at the same time
Whether to fuel the tool or not? Whether to enable the tool to function again or let it rest?
Those are not the questions I would answer here; they are for another time, another tale
Here I speak of the rectangle
What was beyond it? Paper or flesh? Food or enemy?
It did not matter
What I wished it to guide me to was decided long before I gazed upon its sharp lines and flat top
The rectangle will guide me as it always has
A rectangle on a tool made before I was born
Made the same year my father drew breath, years before my mother cried for the first time
A rectangle viewed through a circle; a post through an aperture
Sitting atop a tool made to control burning gas; expanding gas
To direct metal to repeat the task while the wood cradles it; gives it comfort
With leather to bind it to me
Me to it
To make us one
Odes cannot describe it and I when united
Words fail in their vulgarity and barbarism
A rectangle sitting on top of a cylinder made to spew smaller cylinders to affect my will?
How crass that sounds? How empty?
All my eloquence is inadequate to tell of how my eye links with that rectangle
Of how my heart beats inside the wood
How my breath hardens with the metal
How my mind burns the hole that the tool will make real
It is not a mere rifle of which I speak but a Garand
And not a mere Garand, but Mine

I think the best explanation of this poem was from USCitizen, who said: "The Post captures the focus, the essence, the gestalt of the aimed shot. The mental focus that erases the physical, that casts away all peripheral considerations and concentrates all effort on the only thing that matters: the rectangle through the ghost ring."

Posted by annika, Mar. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

March 01, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Now that Mardi Gras is over, let's have some New Orleans poetry. Gina Ferrara is a poet who was displaced by hurricane Katrina. She evacuated to Jackson, Mississippi, leaving everything behind, including her computer with all her work. She thought she had taken a CD containing all her poetry, but when she arrived in Jackson she realized that she had grabbed the wrong CD. In the interim, Ferrara had to re-learn an old technology.

I bought a red notebook and some mechanical lead pencils, and I began writing poems by hand. . . . I found that this was a totally different process [from] using the computer. Writing poems by hand is slower, and it seems to be more of a permanent process. The page looks like grafitti, with arrows pointing in up and down directions, scratch outs, and edits done in different colored inks.
After a few anxious weeks, Ferrara returned home to find that although her neighborhood had flooded, her house, and her poetry, had been spared.*

Close to Zenith

Hearts do not bleed,
there, up in the sky
at the other end of twine.
We are flying a kite
admist rubble
from a demolition
we cannot remember,
past birthdays and ruins
higher than the slipping sun
when we run out of twine.
The blurred kite
with hearts ablaze on gauze,
escapes from our fingers
a curious flag of surrender.


* Poets & Writers Magazine, January/February 2006, p. 59.

Posted by annika, Mar. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 27, 2006

Pistol Packin' Poet

Poetry for you gun nuts out there. From Wadcutter.

An ode to short recoil

When cases won’t split
because the pressure is low,
no delay is needed
and the slide rearward can go.

But for a little more power,
the breech must then lock.
Even for a moment
Or you’ll kB your Glock.

As they recoil together
slide and barrel do mate:
the big blocky lug
joined with ejection gate.

Down swings the lug
and the barrel stops short.
The slide continues back
and flings brass from the port

The spring is compressed
and the slide does rebound,
coming back forward
with a fresh shiny round.

That’s how it works,
at least you get the gist.
Now pull the trigger again
and double-tap that rapist.

Via Publicola.

Posted by annika, Feb. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: Poetry

February 22, 2006

Wednesday Is Washington's Birthday

Hugo asked for more Burns. So I can't think of a more appropriate poem for today than this one.

Ode for General Washington’s Birthday

No Spartan tube, no Attic shell,
No lyre Æolian I awake;
’Tis liberty’s bold note I swell,
Thy harp, Columbia, let me take!
See gathering thousands, while I sing,
A broken chain exulting bring,
And dash it in a tyrant’s face,
And dare him to his very beard,
And tell him he no more is feared—
No more the despot of Columbia’s race!
A tyrant’s proudest insults brav’d,
They shout—a People freed! They hail an Empire saved.

Where is man’s god-like form?
Where is that brow erect and bold—
That eye that can unmov’d behold
The wildest rage, the loudest storm
That e’er created fury dared to raise?
Avaunt! thou caitiff, servile, base,
That tremblest at a despot’s nod,
Yet, crouching under the iron rod,
Canst laud the hand that struck th’ insulting blow!
Art thou of man’s Imperial line?
Dost boast that countenance divine?
Each skulking feature answers, No!
But come, ye sons of Liberty,
Columbia’s offspring, brave as free,
In danger’s hour still flaming in the van,
Ye know, and dare maintain, the Royalty of Man!

Alfred! on thy starry throne,
Surrounded by the tuneful choir,
The bards that erst have struck the patriot lyre,
And rous’d the freeborn Briton’s soul of fire,
No more thy England own!
Dare injured nations form the great design,
To make detested tyrants bleed?
Thy England execrates the glorious deed!
Beneath her hostile banners waving,
Every pang of honour braving,
England in thunder calls, “The tyrant’s cause is mine!”
That hour accurst how did the fiends rejoice
And hell, thro’ all her confines, raise the exulting voice,
That hour which saw the generous English name
Linkt with such damned deeds of everlasting shame!

Thee, Caledonia! thy wild heaths among,
Fam’d for the martial deed, the heaven-taught song,
To thee I turn with swimming eyes;
Where is that soul of Freedom fled?
Immingled with the mighty dead,
Beneath that hallow’d turf where Wallace lies
Hear it not, WALLACE! in thy bed of death.
Ye babbling winds! in silence sweep,
Disturb not ye the hero’s sleep,
Nor give the coward secret breath!
Is this the ancient Caledonian form,
Firm as the rock, resistless as the storm?
Show me that eye which shot immortal hate,
Blasting the despot’s proudest bearing;
Show me that arm which, nerv’d with thundering fate,
Crush’d Usurpation’s boldest daring!—
Dark-quench’d as yonder sinking star,
No more that glance lightens afar;
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war.

By Robert Burns.

Posted by annika, Feb. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 21, 2006

Planes & Poetry

David Foster has a post about The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour, where a B-17, a B-25, and a B-24 are visiting various cities around the country this spring. The schedule is here. I would sure love to ride in one of those things, if they give me a parachute.

In addition, David excerpts some wonderful WWII bomber poetry. I bet you didn't think there was such a thing.

Posted by annika, Feb. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & Poetry

February 18, 2006

The State Of Poetry Education In The Muslim World

It must be pitiful.

Come on, a haiku is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 syllables. How hard is that, now?

Posted by annika, Feb. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 15, 2006

Poetry Wednesday: Sandburg

I stopped in Springfield Illinois a few years ago, just to pay my respects to President Lincoln. Here's an account of a visit by Carl Sandburg, from 1918.


In Abraham Lincoln’s city,
Where they remember his lawyer’s shingle,
The place where they brought him
Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories
From Tallahassee to the Yukon,
The place now where the shaft of his tomb
Points white against the blue prairie dome,
In Abraham Lincoln’s city … I saw knucks
In the window of Mister Fischman’s second-hand store
On Second Street.

I went in and asked, “How much?”
“Thirty cents apiece,” answered Mister Fischman.
And taking a box of new ones off a shelf
He filled anew the box in the showcase
And said incidentally, most casually
And incidentally:
“I sell a carload a month of these.”

I slipped my fingers into a set of knucks,
Cast-iron knucks molded in a foundry pattern,
And there came to me a set of thoughts like these:
Mister Fischman is for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff,
And the street car strikers and the strike-breakers,
And the sluggers, gunmen, detectives, policemen,
Judges, utility heads, newspapers, priests, lawyers,
They are all for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff.

I started for the door.
“Maybe you want a lighter pair,”
Came Mister Fischman’s voice.
I opened the door … and the voice again:
“You are a funny customer.”

Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories,
This is the place they brought him,
This is Abraham Lincoln’s home town.

I might wonder why Carl Sandburg would need knucks. But then I would be committing the error of assuming that all poetry is autobiography.

Posted by annika, Feb. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

February 08, 2006

Poetry Wednesday: Verne

Today is Jules Verne's birthday. Here is a translation of one of his poems. Warning: it's a sad one.

Greenland Song

Dark Is the sky,
The sun sinks wearily;
My trembling heart, with sorrow filled,
Aches drearily !
My sweet child at my songs is smiling still,
While at his tender heart the icicles lie chill.
Child of my dreams I
Thy love doth cheer me;
The cruel biting frost I brave
But to be near thee!
Ah me, Ah me, could these hot tears of mine
But melt the icicles around that heart of thine!
Could we once more
Meet heart to heart,
Thy little hands close clasped in mine,
No more to part.
Then on thy chill heart rays from heaven above
Should fall, and softly melt it with the warmth of love!

Posted by annika, Feb. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

January 25, 2006

Wednesday Is Robert Burns's Birthday

Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet, was born on this day in 1759. He is probably most famous for having written Auld Lang Syne. Now I know there are some Burns fans out there. Here's on he wrote in honor of his own birthday.

Sonnet Written On The Author's Birthday,

On hearing a Thrush sing in his Morning Walk.

Sing on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough,
Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain,
See aged Winter, 'mid his surly reign,
At thy blythe carol, clears his furrowed brow.

So in lone Poverty's dominion drear,
Sits meek Content with light, unanxious heart;
Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,
Nor asks if they bring ought to hope or fear.

I thank thee, Author of this opening day!
Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies!
Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys-
What wealth could never give nor take away!

Yet come, thou child of poverty and care,
The mite high heav'n bestow'd, that mite with thee I'll share.

Posted by annika, Jan. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: Poetry

January 11, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

For the first poetry day of 2006, I've selected my favorite poem by Brian Turner, perhaps the best known poet of the Iraq War.

Turner is a fantastic poet, and it's no surprise to me that his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon is in poetry .

Turner—also known as Sergeant T. or 'the professor'—was a team leader in the first Stryker brigade to be sent into the combat zone, and was stationed, for much of 2004, near Mosul. He wrote his poems secretly. People in the Army knew that he had a master’s degree, but no one ever asked him what it was for—it was an M.F.A. in poetry, from the University of Oregon—and he saw no reason to advertise it. Noncommissioned officers, he says, are the 'backbone of the Army,' and 'it’s hard to be hard-nosed if you’re writing poetry.' He didn’t want his underlings to think he was writing about 'flowers and stuff like that.'
That was from a New Yorker bio of the poet. Wikipedia adds that the seven year Army veteran served with the 10th Mountain in Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1999 and 2000.

So Turner's soldier credentials are solid. "But Annika," you ask, "what's his view on the war?" Just enjoy the poem first. It stands on its own regardless of anybody's politics.


Camp Wolverine, Kuwait

Staff Sergeant Garza, the mortuary affairs specialist
from Missouri, switches on the music to hear
there’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky, honey,
as she slices out a Y-incision with a scalpel
from collarbone to breastplate, from the xiphoid process
down the smooth skin of the belly, bringing light
into the great cavern of the body, in the deep flesh
where she cuts the cords which bind the heart,
lifting it in her gloved palms, measuring the organ
for its weight, though she can’t help but wonder
what this heart has known, the secrets it holds,
how fast this heart beat when he first kissed
Shawna Allen, her lips the soft pink carnations
of spring, how they woke at dawn in Half Moon Bay
to make love in the ice-plant dunes, their hair
tangled in salt as the foam washed in, this heart
heavy with whiskey and the long midnights
driven by rain and all that life humbles in us,
a heart made of the times his father woke him
to see a meteor shower, telling him stories
of the moon, of how the Arabs believe it gathers
the souls of the dead when it fills with light,
how it carries them to the sun once it’s full,
that’s what this heart holds in Garza’s hands,
thirty-four years of a life, a montage of America,
the long caravan of moments we gather
in an unwritten epic we carry within us, what is given
in ash to the earth and sea by caring hands
if we’re lucky, by someone like her,
who sings low at the chorus, saying
there’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky,
weather’s gonna break and hell’s gonna fly,
baby, sweet thing, darlin

Author’s note: Italicized lines are from “Black Wind Blowing” by Woody Guthrie.

More Turner can be found at The Georgia Review. The .pdf page is here.

As a veteran, what does Turner say about the War?

History may prove me wrong, but at this point in time I cannot say that the lives lost have been worth the cost. As a country, are we learning from this experience? In regard to love and relationships and personal development, I think it worth noting that there are many returning veterans who will need help for PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. There are many organizations which are trying to bridge the divide and offer assistance to those who need it.
I'd say Turner leans toward the tradition of Owen and Sassoon. Not my view, but that's pretty decent company for a poet to be in.

Posted by annika, Jan. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 21, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here's an old version of a Christmas Hymn, which is different than the one i'm used to singing.

Christmas Hymn

by Charles Wesley

Hark! how all the welkin rings
Glory to the King of kings!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
Christ the Lord is born to-day!

Christ by highest Heaven adored,
Christ, the Everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’ Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to appear,
Jesus our Immanuel here!

Hail! the heavenly Prince of Peace!
Hail! the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home!
Rise, the Woman’s conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent’s head!
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore,
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine!

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place;
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love!
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the Heavenly Man:
O! to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!

i love near-rhymes. This is an Eighteenth Century hymn, so it may be that those near-rhymes are due to archaic pronounciation.

Posted by annika, Dec. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

December 07, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

i did a search for Pearl Harbor poetry and i came up with this one, by Walt McDonald, published in Valparaiso Poetry Review.

It's nice, but this next one, also by McDonald is really nice, and still timely.

The War In Bosnia

Under darkness of stars our son flies
over Bosnia, keeping watch over snow.
Apache gunships will be out tonight.

The moon on foreign snowfields highlights
bodies running under trees, friend or foe.
Under darkness of stars our son flies

with star scope and rockets and wide eyes
over war zones bitter enemies know.
Apache gunships will be out tonight.

What keeps a nation armed and justifies
air power is such a killing field—we know,
but under darkness of stars our son flies.

In boots and parka, someone watches the skies
and owns disposable Stingers, and is cold.
Apache gunships will be out tonight.

I conjure God to stop him, warp his sights.
I stare with the prayer all fathers know.
Under darkness of stars our son flies.
Apache gunships will be out tonight.

Not to nitpick about this excellent poem, but wasn't there a controversy about the use of Apaches in Bosnia. As i recall, they trained and trained, and lost a few during manuevers, but never used them in combat.

Posted by annika, Dec. 7, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 30, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

No poem today. Instead, i will quote some advice on how to read poetry, especially difficult poetry, which i discovered in the November 7, 2005, issue of The New Yorker. The advice comes from a worthy source, the great poet John Ashbery, in a long but fabulous piece about the poet, written by Larissa MacFarquhar.

This is how Ashbery reads. When he sits down with a book of poems by somebody else he goes through it quickly. He forms a first impression of a poem almost at once, and if he isn't grabbed by it he'll flip ahead and read something else. But if he's caught up he'll keep going, still reading quite fast, not making any attempt to understand what's going on but feeling that on some other level something is clicking between him and the poem, something is working. He knows implicitly that he's getting it, though he would find it difficult to say at this point what, exactly, he's getting. It's the sound of the poem, though not literally so--it's something like the sound produced by meaning, which lets you know that there's meaning there even though you don't know what it is yet. Later, if he likes the poem, he will go back and read it more carefully, trying to get at its meaning in a more conventional way, but it's really that first impression which counts.

. . .

It isn't that he believes that a poem can mean anything, or means nothing, or that language is irreducibly ambiguous, or that only an excavation of the author's unconscious can provide the key, or that the author's intention is irrelevant, or anything like that. He isn't interested in theory. It's simply that, for him, poems are pleasuable tools. He wants a poem to do something to him, to spark a thought or, even better, a verse of his own; he has no urge to do something to the poem.

People often tell him that they never understood his poems, or never understood them so well, until they heard him read them out loud. . . . [A] person might understand them better in readings because he is forced to listen to them in real time. He can't go back and try to make sense of this line or that, as he could if he were reading it in a book: if something sounds odd he must simply accept it and continue to listen, letting his mind catch on one phrase or another. And if he finds himself suddenly jolting back to attention after a minute or two of wondering whether he remembered to lock his apartment, or whether a crack in the ceiling looks more like a fried egg or France, or whether he should have a hamburger for dinner, he must accept that he has missed a bit of the poem, there is no retrieving it, and just enjoy what is left without worrying too much about how it all fits together.

In a sense, reading poetry is like appreciating fine art. i always try to remember to forget about prose, and the expectations of clarity one has from reading prose. Even the most dense poetry is communicating something. But just like painting or sculpture, if the message were something that could be communicated by prose, it would have been written in prose.

Posted by annika, Nov. 30, 2005 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 16, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Today, a little Sandburg, from 1920.

The Lawyers Know Too Much
The lawyers, Bob, know too much.
They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
They know it all, what a dead hand Wrote,
A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
The bones of the fingers a thin white ash

    The lawyers know
      a dead man’s thoughts too well.
In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,

Too many doors to go in and out of.
    When the lawyers are through
    What is there left, Bob?
    Can a mouse nibble at it
    And find enough to fasten a tooth in?
    Why is there always a secret singing
    When a lawyer cashes in?
    Why does a hearse horse snicker
    Hauling a lawyer away?
The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.

The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
    Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
    Build a house no wind blows over.

The lawyers—tell me why a hearse horse snickers hauling a lawyer’s bones.

Posted by annika, Nov. 16, 2005 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 09, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Williams

Again, from Willliam Carlos Williams:

To A Solitary Disciple

Rather notice, mon cher,
that the moon is
tilted above
the point of the steeple
than that its color
is shell-pink.

Rather observe
that it is early morning
than that the sky
is smooth
as a turquoise.

Rather grasp
how the dark
converging lines
of the steeple
meet at a pinnacle—
perceive how
its little ornament
tries to stop them—

See how it fails!
See how the converging lines
of the hexagonal spire
escape upward—
receding, dividing!
that guard and contain
the flower!

how motionless
the eaten moon
lies in the protecting lines.

It is true:
in the light colors
of the morning
brown-stone and slate
shine orange and dark blue

But observe
the oppressive weight
of the squat edifice!
the jasmine lightness
of the moon.

What do i see in this poem.


Posted by annika, Nov. 9, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

November 02, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Lawrence

Here's a poem by D.H. Lawrence from 1916. On the surface it seems to be a portrait of some Londoners who, down on their luck, are living by the river. But almost every stanza contains some sort of sexual imagery, it's weird.

Embankment at Night, before the War

The night rain, dripping unseen,
Comes endlessly kissing my face and my hands.

The river, slipping between
Lamps, is rayed with golden bands
Half way down its heaving sides;
Revealed where it hides.

Under the bridge
Great electric cars
Sing through, and each with a floor-light racing along at its side.
Far off, oh, midge after midge
Drifts over the gulf that bars
The night with silence, crossing the lamp-touched tide.

At Charing Cross, here, beneath the bridge
Sleep in a row the outcasts,
Packed in a line with their heads against the wall.
Their feet, in a broken ridge
Stretch out on the way, and a lout casts
A look as he stands on the edge of this naked stall.

Beasts that sleep will cover
Their faces in their flank; so these
Have huddled rags or limbs on the naked sleep.
Save, as the tram-cars hover
Past with the noise of a breeze
And gleam as of sunshine crossing the low black heap,

Two naked faces are seen
Bare and asleep,
Two pale clots swept and swept by the light of the cars.
Foam-clots showing between
The long, low tidal-heap,
The mud-weed opening two pale, shadowless stars.

Over the pallor of only two faces
Passes the gallivant beam of the trams;
Shows in only two sad places
The white bare bone of our shams.

A little, bearded man, pale, peaked in sleeping,
With a face like a chickweed flower.
And a heavy woman, sleeping still keeping
Callous and dour.

Over the pallor of only two places
Tossed on the low, black, ruffled heap
Passes the light of the tram as it races
Out of the deep.

Eloquent limbs
In disarray
Sleep-suave limbs of a youth with long, smooth thighs
Hutched up for warmth; the muddy rims
Of trousers fray
On the thin bare shins of a man who uneasily lies.

The balls of five red toes
As red and dirty, bare
Young birds forsaken and left in a nest of mud—
Newspaper sheets enclose
Some limbs like parcels, and tear
When the sleeper stirs or turns on the ebb of the flood—

One heaped mound
Of a woman’s knees
As she thrusts them upward under the ruffled skirt—
And a curious dearth of sound
In the presence of these
Wastrels that sleep on the flagstones without any hurt.

Over two shadowless, shameless faces
Stark on the heap
Travels the light as it tilts in its paces
Gone in one leap.

At the feet of the sleepers, watching,
Stand those that wait
For a place to lie down; and still as they stand, they sleep,
Wearily catching
The flood’s slow gait
Like men who are drowned, but float erect in the deep.

Oh, the singing mansions,
Golden-lighted tall
Trams that pass, blown ruddily down the night!
The bridge on its stanchions
Stoops like a pall
To this human blight.

On the outer pavement, slowly,
Theatre people pass,
Holding aloft their umbrellas that flash and are bright
Like flowers of infernal moly
Over nocturnal grass
Wetly bobbing and drifting away on our sight.

And still by the rotten
Row of shattered feet,
Outcasts keep guard.
Forgetting, till fate shall delete
One from the ward.

The factories on the Surrey side
Are beautifully laid in black on a gold-grey sky.
The river’s invisible tide
Threads and thrills like ore that is wealth to the eye.

And great gold midges
Cross the chasm
At the bridges
Above intertwined plasm.

Lawrence uses the adjective "naked" three times in the same poem. "Bare" appears four times, "heap" five times. Look at his other images, they make a poem all their own:

endlessly kissing, slipping between, heaving sides, revealed where it hides, white bare bone, peaked in sleeping, the tram races out of the deep, eloquent limbs in disarray, a youth with long, smooth thighs, heaped mound of a woman’s knees, she thrusts them upward under the ruffled skirt, erect in the deep, wetly bobbing and drifting, beautifully laid, midges cross the chasm, and lastly the intertwined plasm.

wow. Looks like he had some fun with that one. D.H. was one horny bastard.

More poetry: Did you know that Tuesday is Haikuesday at Crash and Byrne?

Posted by annika, Nov. 2, 2005 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 26, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

By Rita Dove, here's a timely poem:


How she sat there,
the time right inside a place
so wrong it was ready.

That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.

Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.

How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.

Posted by annika, Oct. 26, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 20, 2005

If Dogs Wrote Haiku

woof woof woof woof woof
woof woof woof woof woof woof woof
woof woof woof woof woof

Think about it.

Posted by annika, Oct. 20, 2005 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: Poetry

October 19, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here's a classic American poem from 1888, which you all should know.

Casey At The Bat

by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that–
We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped–
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the sphereoid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville ― mighty Casey has struck out.

Go Astros!

Posted by annika, Oct. 19, 2005 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (2)
Rubric: Poetry

October 13, 2005

Pinter Gets The Nobel

Playwright Harold Pinter has won the Nobel Prize for literature. i saw a production of his most famous play The Birthday Party years ago. It was as advertised: tense, absurdist, deeply psychological and disturbing. i recommend it. i have also seen The Caretaker, which i didn't like as much.

But Pinter is as anti-American as they come, which says something about the Nobel committee, since i don't think Pinter's done anything noteworthy since he wrote The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Here's a sampling of his poetry:


There's no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They'll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.

That's not even good poetry. Its more like a piece of dialogue at some snooty Brit cocktail party where every one wears black sportcoats over black turtlenecks. Its easy to sneer at Democracy when your life is spent hobnobbing with celebs in Mayfair and the Upper East Side and you never have to deal with real people.

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.

Nice. Sounds like he has a problem with religion too. It would be a shock if even one of these celebrity anti-war libs ever strayed from that template.

Update: More at The New Criterion. Hat tip to K-Lo at The Corner.

Posted by annika, Oct. 13, 2005 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 12, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Poetry Wednesday is like Desmond's crappy 80's Apple II on Lost. What would happen if i didn't enter the code and push the button every week?

Update: i chickened out.


by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Posted by annika, Oct. 12, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

October 05, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: More O'Hara

Typically Frank O'Hara. The setting for this poem starts out in bed and ends up in the street.


That's not a cross look it's a sign of life
but I'm glad you care how I look at you
this morning (after I got up) I was thinking
of President Warren G. Harding and Horace S.
Warren, father of the little blonde girl
across the street and another blonde Agnes
Hedlund (this was in the 6th grade!)        what

now the day has begun in a soft grey way
with elephantine traffic trudging along Fifth
and two packages of Camels in my pocket
I can't think of one interesting thing Warren
G. Harding did, I guess I was passing notes
to Sally and Agnes at the time he came up
in our elephantine history course everything

seems slow suddenly and boring except
for my insatiable thinking towards you
as you lie asleep completely plotzed and
gracious as a hillock in the mist from one
small window, sunless and only slightly open
as is your mouth and presently your quiet eyes
your breathing is like that history lesson

Posted by annika, Oct. 5, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 28, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

cerb.gifi had a nightmare last night in which monsters and evil things were featured. i half woke up and thought to myself "why am i dreaming in horror?" Then i rolled over on my other side, which allowed my unconscious to switch genres.

i was always fascinated by monsters as a kid. When i was in fourth grade i did a school report on mythological beasts. i made a chart on poster board with drawings of each monster and little descriptions, written by me. The chart included the hydra, basilisk, chimaera, kappa, phoenix, griffon, manticore, medusa and cerberus. i wish i had saved those drawings; i was so precocious back then.

Maybe i'm thinking about monsters because Halloween is coming up. Or maybe because the radio guys i listen to in the morning were talking about hell. Or maybe i'm just going crazy.

Cerberus is a pretty scary beast. He inhabits the Third Circle of Hell, where gluttons are punished. Here is how Dante Alighieri describes him in Canto VI of The Inferno.

In the third circle I arrive, of showers
Ceaseless, accursed, heavy and cold, unchanged
For ever, both in kind and in degree.
Large hail, discolor’d water, sleety flaw
Through the dun midnight air stream’d down amain:
Stank all the land whereon that tempest fell.
Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,
Through his wide threefold throat, barks as a dog
Over the multitude immersed beneath.
His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,
His belly large, and claw’d the hands, with which
He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs
Piecemeal disparts. Howling there spread, as curs,
Under the rainy deluge, with one side
The other screening, oft they roll them round,
A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm
Descried us, savage Cerberus, he oped
His jaws, and the fangs show’d us; not a limb
Of him but trembled. Then my guide, his palms
Expanding on the ground, thence fill’d with earth
Raised them, and cast it in his ravenous maw.
E’en as a dog, that yelling bays for food
His keeper, when the morsel comes, lets fall
His fury, bent alone with eager haste
To swallow it; so dropp’d the loathsome cheeks
Of demon Cerberus, who thundering stuns
The spirits, that they for deafness wish in vain.

It's interesting that Dante describes Cerberus as "trembling." You'd think it would be Dante who was trembling more during the encounter. Another translation says the monster's "body was one mass of twitching muscles." What a frightening image! i also like how Virgil distracts the monster by throwing a glob of mud into its "ravenous maw." That's a great descriptive term. The stuff of nightmares.

Here's another, perhaps easier, translation of the scene:

In the third circle am I of the rain
Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;
Its law and quality are never new.
Huge hail, and water sombre-hued, and snow,
Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain;
Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this.
Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
With his three gullets like a dog is barking
Over the people that are there submerged.
Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,
And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.
Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;
One side they make a shelter for the other;
Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates.
When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!
His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks;
Not a limb had he that was motionless.
And my Conductor, with his spans extended,
Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled,
He threw it into those rapacious gullets.
Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,
And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,
For to devour it he but thinks and struggles,
The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed
Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders
Over the souls that they would fain be deaf.

i like that translation because the image in lines 14-15 is clearer: the damned souls using their own backs as shields from the horrid rain. They keep rolling over in vain, but unlike me, they can't end their nightmare.

Posted by annika, Sep. 28, 2005 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: Poetry

September 21, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

i used to read a poetry message board, where amateur poets went for affirmation. Some of the most common poems, and some of the worst, were poems about Autumn. Leaves changing color and leaves falling were favorite subjects of these poets. After about two dozen of these, you never want to read another poem about autumn again. It's almost as bad as teenage angst poetry. Well no, nothing is quite as bad as that.

The gold standard for poems about falling leaves was written by Emily Dickinson a long time ago.

Ribbons of the Year―
Multitude Brocade―
Worn to Nature's Party once

Then, as flung aside
As a faded Bead
Or a Wrinkled Pearl
Who shall charge the Vanity
Of the Maker's Girl?

Fall has always been the most introspective season for me. (While i say "introspective," some might call it "moody.") As i approach this year's equinox, i'll keep in mind Dickinson's prayer:

Besides the Autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze―

A few incisive Mornings―
A few Ascetic Eves―
Gone -- Mr. Bryant's "Golden Rod"―
And Mr. Thomson's "sheaves."

Still, is the bustle in the Brook―
Sealed are the spicy valves―
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The Eyes of many Elves―

Perhaps a squirrel may remain―
My sentiments to share―
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind―
Thy windy will to bear!

Posted by annika, Sep. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

September 07, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Merton

Today's poem is by a Trappist monk of the Strict Observance, the late Thomas Merton. My experience reading the poem mirrors my own flirtations with serenity a few years back. Every time i think i get it, it slips away. Ultimately, i just give up.

When in the soul of the serene disciple

When in the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction.

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without visions.

Posted by annika, Sep. 7, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 31, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Searching for a poem about New Orleans this week was easy.

Charles Bukowski:

Young In New Orleans

starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, maybe it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the
New Orleans was a place to
I could piss away my life,
except for the rats.
the rats in my dark small room
very much resented sharing it
with me.
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
that spoke
an unblinking

women were beyond me.
they saw something
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
brought my

that was plenty for
me, that was

there was something about
that city, though
it didn't let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
it let me alone.

sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape
as I heard the rats
moving about the
I preferred them

being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way

New Orleans gave me
nobody ever called
my name.

no telephone,
no car,
no job,

me and the
and my youth,
one time,
that time
I knew
even through the
it was a
of something not to
but only

Posted by annika, Aug. 31, 2005 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 17, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Funny story about the Ballad Of Davy Crockett. For the longest time i thought the line in the first stanza went: "Killed in a bar when he was only three." Never mind the question of why a three year old got into a bar fight, i couldn't figure out how Davy Crocket got to be so famous when he died at such a young age.

Anyways, the ballad being a traditional form of poetry, i bring you the politically incorrect, not to mention historically incorrect, but always fun Ballad Of Davy Crockett by Tom Blackburn.

The Ballad Of Davy Crockett

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee
greenest state in the land of the free
raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree
kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

In eighteen thirteen the Creeks uprose
addin' redskin arrows to the country's woes
Now, Injun fightin' is somethin' he knows,
so he shoulders his rifle an' off he goes
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Off through the woods he's a marchin' along
makin' up yarns an' a singin' a song
itchin' fer fightin' an' rightin' a wrong
he's ringy as a b'ar an' twict as strong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the buckskin buccaneer!

Andy Jackson is our gen'ral's name
his reg'lar soldiers we'll put to shame
Them redskin varmints us Volunteers'll tame
'cause we got the guns with the sure-fire aim
Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!~

Headed back to war from the ol' home place
but Red Stick was leadin' a merry chase
fightin' an' burnin' at a devil's pace
south to the swamps on the Florida Trace
Davy, Davy Crockett, trackin' the redskins down!

Fought single-handed through the Injun War
till the Creeks was whipped an' peace was in store
An' while he was handlin' this risky chore
made hisself a legend for evermore
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

He give his word an' he give his hand
that his Injun friends could keep their land
An' the rest of his life he took the stand
that justice was due every redskin band
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his promise dear!

Home fer the winter with his family
happy as squirrels in the ol' gum tree
bein' the father he wanted to be
close to his boys as the pod an' the pea
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his young'uns dear!

But the ice went out an' the warm winds came
an' the meltin' snow showed tracks of game
An' the flowers of Spring filled the woods with flame
an' all of a sudden life got too tame
Davy, Davy Crockett, headin' on West again!

Off through the woods we're ridin' along
makin' up yarns an' singin' a song
He's ringy as a b'ar an' twict as strong
an' knows he's right 'cause he ain' often wrong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Lookin' fer a place where the air smells clean
where the trees is tall an' the grass is green
where the fish is fat in an untouched stream
an' the teemin' woods is a hunter's dream
Davy, Davy Crockett, lookin' fer Paradise!

Now he's lost his love an' his grief was gall
in his heart he wanted to leave it all
an' lose himself in the forests tall
but he answered instead his country's call
Davy, Davy Crockett, beginnin' his campaign!

Needin' his help they didn't vote blind
They put in Davy 'cause he was their kind
sent up to Nashville the best they could find
a fightin' spirit an' a thinkin' mind
Davy, Davy Crockett, choice of the whole frontier!

The votes were counted an' he won hands down
so they sent him off to Washin'ton town
with his best dress suit still his buckskins brown
a livin' legend of growin' renown
Davy, Davy Crockett, the Canebrake Congressman!

He went off to Congress an' served a spell
fixin' up the Govern'ments an' laws as well
took over Washin'ton so we heered tell
an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

Him an' his jokes travelled all through the land
an' his speeches made him friends to beat the band
His politickin' was their favorite brand
an' everyone wanted to shake his hand
Davy, Davy Crockett, helpin' his legend grow!

He knew when he spoke he sounded the knell
of his hopes for White House an' fame as well
But he spoke out strong so hist'ry books tell
an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

When he come home his politickin' done
the western march had just begun
So he packed his gear an' his trusty gun
an' lit out grinnin' to follow the sun
Davy, Davy Crockett, leadin' the pioneer!

He heard of Houston an' Austin so
to the Texas plains he jest had to go
Where freedom was fightin' another foe
an' they needed him at the Alamo
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

His land is biggest an' his land is best
from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He's ahead of us all meetin' the test
followin' his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

Posted by annika, Aug. 17, 2005 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 10, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Norris

i've long been a fan of Kathleen Norris, and her spiritual essay books The Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary Of Faith. Also, one of my prized bookmarks is a laminated prayer to St. Jude in the traditional form. Here is a poem by Ms. Norris along the same theme.

Prayer to St. Jude

O, great Saint Jude
Whose traitor-sounding name
By man's perceptions crude
Confused is with the obloquy and blame
Of him who to our gain and his disaster
Betrayed so kind a Master;
We, seeing more clear, concede thee what was thine;
The glory of a place beside that board
Whereon, awaiting their predestined hour
Of bowing to all-Good, all-Love, all-Power,
Lay bread and wine
Before that Host adored
Through whom our hope and our salvation came;
Thy kinsman, and our Lord.

O, thou, the sad day done,
Taking the homeward road
To thine obscure abode
In the long shadows of the setting sun,
To meet the frightened crowd
Sobbing aloud,
With thine Aunt Mary silent in their midst,
Leaning upon
The faithful arm of John;
Saint Jude, who didst
Join them in unbelief
And utter agony of grief,
And in a voice of pain and terror cried:
"Saw'st thou--and thou--
Saws't thou indeed my Cousin crucified?"
O, by the memory of that hour of birth
Wherein Heaven's door opened to us of earth,
Befriend--befriend us now!

Posted by annika, Aug. 10, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 03, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Hardy

An August night and bugs. Sounds like Sacramento to me.

An August Midnight


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter — winged, horned, and spined —
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While 'mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands . . .


Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
- My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
"God's humblest, they!" I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

By Thomas Hardy.

Posted by annika, Aug. 3, 2005 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 27, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: The Submarine

Well, i'm back from San Diego. i ate too much food and got too much sun, but it was beautiful. My dad served on a carrier years ago, and we took a tour of the new USS Midway museum, which was fascinating. Lots to see for fans of Naval aviation, especially Vietnam era stuff. i'll post some pictures later. During the tour, i found this painting on a bulkhead in the forecastle.


Here's a submarine poem by the 20th Century New Zealand poet Will Lawson.

The Submarine

The grey of Ocean’s denseness
     Surrounds her like a veil;
In silent deeps’ immenseness
     No laughing seas give hail;
But round her, rudely riven,
     The sullen waters feel
Her stout hull, engine-driven,
     A thrilling thing of steel
That cleaves a pathway under
     The breakers’ snarling lips—
That mocks the big guns’ thunder
     And scorns the battle-ships.

She goes by deeps and shallows
     ’Neath blue Australian seas,
Where never sun enhaloes
     A wandering ocean breeze;
Yet, at her steersman’s willing,
     She lifts her stalk-like eye
To see the sunlight spilling
     Its gold on sea and sky;
And, mirrored in fair colour,
     The picture true is thrown
Where, in the sea-light duller,
     Her spinning engines drone.

When, with her bearings taken,
     She plunges deep again,
She is as one forsaken,
     Beyond the world of men.
Yet living men tend truly
     Her tanks’ and air-valves’ flow,
And oil her engines duly,
     For it was ordered so—
Aye, tho’ beyond the borders
     Of human worlds they be,
Their orders still are orders,
     And what avails the sea?

’Neath bright electrics glowing
     They reck not that outside,
In age-long course, is flowing
     The grey-green under-tide.
By periscope and needle
     And pressure gauge they steer;
For who with steel can wheedle
     As does the engineer,
In whose quick brain is hidden
     The secrets of the stars—
Who on the storms has ridden,
     And hurled the thunder-cars?

He hears the steady murmur
     Of engines in the gloom.
Could deck or floor be firmer
     Than his deep engine-room?
And he whose touch the rudders
     Respond to like a child,
Calm, when she turns and shudders,
     With silent mien and mild—
He makes new pathways under
     The breakers’ snarling lips;
He mocks the big guns’ thunder
     And scorns the battle-ships.

Posted by annika, Jul. 27, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 20, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Wordsworth

i doubt there's any visitor to this blog who needs to be reminded of the importance of this day in human history. So i don't have to tell you why i chose this poem. (It has nothing to do with Jackie Gleason.)

To The Moon

Wanderer! that stoop'st so low, and com'st so near
To human life's unsettled atmosphere;
Who lov'st with Night and Silence to partake,
So might it seem, the cares of them that wake;
And, through the cottage-lattice softly peeping,
Dost shield from harm the humblest of the sleeping;
What pleasure once encompassed those sweet names
Which yet in thy behalf the Poet claims,
An idolizing dreamer as of yore!--
I slight them all; and, on this sea-beat shore
Sole-sitting, only can to thoughts attend
That bid me hail thee as the SAILOR'S FRIEND;
So call thee for heaven's grace through thee made known
By confidence supplied and mercy shown,
When not a twinkling star or beacon's light
Abates the perils of a stormy night;
And for less obvious benefits, that find
Their way, with thy pure help, to heart and mind;
Both for the adventurer starting in life's prime;
And veteran ranging round from clime to clime,
Long-baffled hope's slow fever in his veins,
And wounds and weakness oft his labour's sole remains.

      The aspiring Mountains and the winding Streams,
Empress of Night! are gladdened by thy beams;
A look of thine the wilderness pervades,
And penetrates the forest's inmost shades;
Thou, chequering peaceably the minster's gloom,
Guid'st the pale Mourner to the lost one's tomb;
Canst reach the Prisoner--to his grated cell
Welcome, though silent and intangible!--
And lives there one, of all that come and go
On the great waters toiling to and fro,
One, who has watched thee at some quiet hour
Enthroned aloft in undisputed power,
Or crossed by vapoury streaks and clouds that move
Catching the lustre they in part reprove--
Nor sometimes felt a fitness in thy sway
To call up thoughts that shun the glare of day,
And make the serious happier than the gay?

      Yes, lovely Moon! if thou so mildly bright
Dost rouse, yet surely in thy own despite,
To fiercer mood the phrenzy-stricken brain,
Let me a compensating faith maintain;
That there's a sensitive, a tender, part
Which thou canst touch in every human heart,
For healing and composure.--But, as least
And mightiest billows ever have confessed
Thy domination; as the whole vast Sea
Feels through her lowest depths thy sovereignty;
So shines that countenance with especial grace
On them who urge the keel her 'plains' to trace
Furrowing its way right onward. The most rude,
Cut off from home and country, may have stood--
Even till long gazing hath bedimmed his eye,
Or the mute rapture ended in a sigh--
Touched by accordance of thy placid cheer,
With some internal lights to memory dear,
Or fancies stealing forth to soothe the breast
Tired with its daily share of earth's unrest,--
Gentle awakenings, visitations meek;
A kindly influence whereof few will speak,
Though it can wet with tears the hardiest cheek.

      And when thy beauty in the shadowy cave
Is hidden, buried in its monthly grave;
Then, while the Sailor, 'mid an open sea
Swept by a favouring wind that leaves thought free,
Paces the deck--no star perhaps in sight,
And nothing save the moving ship's own light
To cheer the long dark hours of vacant night--
Oft with his musings does thy image blend,
In his mind's eye thy crescent horns ascend,
And thou art still, O Moon, that SAILOR'S FRIEND!

Posted by annika, Jul. 20, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 13, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

War poetry this week.

In his travels, the knight errant Don Quixote de La Mancha met a man known as "the captive," who fought against the Turks. The captive was taken prisoner by a fierce pirate and made a slave oarman on a Turkish galley. The captive related the story of another slave who rowed next to him on the galley, a nobleman named Don Pedro de Aguilar, who had a gift for poetry. Here is one of his sonnets, about the bravery of the Spanish soldiers who in 1574 died defending the Goletta, a citadel near Tunis, the infamous home of the Barbary pirates.

O blissful souls, who from the mortal veil
freed and unconfined, flew from this low earth,
borne on the wings of brave and virtuous deeds
to the highest, holiest spheres of glorious heav'n,
     ablaze with fury and with righteous zeal,
and summoning all your honor and your strength,
you colored the ocean and the sandy ground
with your own blood, and with the enemy's;
     you lost your lives before you lost the valor
of your weary, battling arms; in death,
though you are vanquished, victory is yours.
     Your mortal, melancholy fall, between
the ramparts and the attacking horde, brings you
fame in this world, blessed glory in the next.

This modern version is from the beautiful new Edith Grossman translation. Two more traditional versions of this sonnet can be found here.

Posted by annika, Jul. 13, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 06, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Frost

In honor of Independence Day, here's Robert Frost's famous history lesson. This is a long poem, but i found that by following the iambic pentameter, it's easier to read. In general, that means that every other syllable is emphasized, starting with the second syllable of each line.

For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration

Gift outright of "The Gift Outright"

(With some preliminary history in rhyme)

Summoning artists to participate
In the august occasions of the state
Seems something artists ought to celebrate.
Today is for my cause a day of days.
And his be poetry's old-fashioned praise
Who was the first to think of such a thing.
This verse that in acknowledgement I bring
Goes back to the beginning of the end
Of what had been for centuries the trend;
A turning point in modern history.
Colonial had been the thing to be
As long as the great issue was to see
What country'd be the one to dominate
By character, by tongue, by native trait,
The new world Christopher Columbus found.
The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed
And counted out. Heroic deeds were done.
Elizabeth the First and England won.
Now came on a new order of the ages
That in the Latin of our founding sages
(Is it not written on the dollar bill
We carry in our purse and pocket still?)
God nodded his approval of as good.
So much those heroes knew and understood,
I mean the great four, Washington,
John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison
So much they saw as consecrated seers
They must have seen ahead what not appears,
They would bring empires down about our ears
And by the example of our Declaration
Make everybody want to be a nation.
And this is no aristocratic joke
At the expense of negligible folk.
We see how seriously the races swarm
In their attempts at sovereignty and form.
They are our wards we think to some extent
For the time being and with their consent,
To teach them how Democracy is meant.
"New order of the ages" did they say?
If it looks none too orderly today,
'Tis a confusion it was ours to start
So in it have to take courageous part.
No one of honest feeling would approve
A ruler who pretended not to love
A turbulence he had the better of.
Everyone knows the glory of the twain
Who gave America the aeroplane
To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane.
Some poor fool has been saying in his heart
Glory is out of date in life and art.
Our venture in revolution and outlawry
Has justified itself in freedom's story
Right down to now in glory upon glory.
Come fresh from an election like the last,
The greatest vote a people ever cast,
So close yet sure to be abided by,
It is no miracle our mood is high.
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs
Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs.
There was the book of profile tales declaring
For the emboldened politicians daring
To break with followers when in the wrong,
A healthy independence of the throng,
A democratic form of right devine
To rule first answerable to high design.
There is a call to life a little sterner,
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner.
Less criticism of the field and court
And more preoccupation with the sport.
It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young amibition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday's the beginning hour.

i think this poem was cut from the actual 1961 inauguration ceremony and the shorter, more opaque poem "The Gift Outright" was substituted.

To me, the last few lines seem especially relevant to today's overly partisan atmosphere.

There is a call to life a little sterner,
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner.
Less criticism of the field and court
And more preoccupation with the sport.
It reminds me of JFK's famous "ask not..." line.

The following lines are the best, and worth reading again slowly.

It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young amibition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
How optimistic, and yes, arrogant. Of course this was 1961, a more innocent age. But yet, Frost was right when he saw it as the beginning of some really great things. And if i may be allowed one partisan comment here, i think the only party left that still understands and embraces America's "power leading from its strength and pride" is not the party of John F. Kennedy.

Thanks again to the scary-smart Matt for the source material.

Posted by annika, Jul. 6, 2005 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

July 01, 2005

The Trouble With Poetry

The Anchoress linked to this interesting NRO column by Mark Goldblatt. In it, he describes what happens when a writer reveals he supports Bush in a room full of poets.

But the most interesting part for me was Goldblatt's theory on why poets are so homogenously left wing. i find his reasoning persuasive:

How could a room full of published poets, wannabe poets, and poetry fans — in other words, people of average to slightly-below-average intelligence — turn out to be of a single mind on the subject of politics? Even in Manhattan, the mathematical odds against such a gathering would seem astronomical.

The answer, I suspect, has to do with groupthink and with the state of poetry in the United States. It is an absolute rule of aesthetics that as the formal constraints of a genre are cast aside, judgment within the genre becomes more and more subjective. Think of it this way: If I set out to write a Petrarchian sonnet and mess up the rhyme scheme, you can point out the error. But how can you tell if I’ve screwed up free verse? As judgment becomes more and more subjective, recognition depends less and less on inspiration and technique. Brownnosing, rather than craft, becomes the poet’s stock and trade. What is the common characteristic of the dozen most notable American poets today?

Their ability to work a room.

If you’re a struggling poet, therefore, right-of-center politics is not an intellectual option; it’s bad manners, a social faux pas. The propositions that George W. Bush is a miserable excuse for a president, that Republicans are evil money-grubbing bastards, that religious conservatives are actively seeking to establish a legislative theocracy . . . these function as conversational currency. If you cannot agree to them, you cannot shmooze; and if you cannot shmooze, you cannot gain entry into the brownnosing, pal-publishing, blurb-spewing universe of American poetry.

Posted by annika, Jul. 1, 2005 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry

June 29, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Whitman's Civil War

Here's a great poem, written by America's greatest poet, who was an eyewitness to what he writes about.

The Artilleryman’s Vision

While my wife at my side lies slumbering, and the wars are over long,
And my head on the pillow rests at home, and the vacant midnight passes,
And through the stillness, through the dark, I hear, just hear, the breath of my infant,
There in the room, as I wake from sleep, this vision presses upon me:
The engagement opens there and then, in fantasy unreal;
The skirmishers begin—they crawl cautiously ahead—I hear the irregular snap! snap!
I hear the sounds of the different missiles—the short t-h-t! t-h-t! of the rifle balls;
I see the shells exploding, leaving small white clouds—I hear the great shells shrieking as they pass;
The grape, like the hum and whirr of wind through the trees, (quick, tumultuous, now the contest rages!)
All the scenes at the batteries themselves rise in detail before me again;
The crashing and smoking—the pride of the men in their pieces;
The chief gunner ranges and sights his piece, and selects a fuse of the right time;
After firing, I see him lean aside, and look eagerly off to note the effect;
—Elsewhere I hear the cry of a regiment charging—(the young colonel leads himself this time, with brandish’d sword;)
I see the gaps cut by the enemy’s volleys, (quickly fill’d up, no delay;)
I breathe the suffocating smoke—then the flat clouds hover low, concealing all;
Now a strange lull comes for a few seconds, not a shot fired on either side;
Then resumed, the chaos louder than ever, with eager calls, and orders of officers;
While from some distant part of the field the wind wafts to my ears a shout of applause, (some special success;)
And ever the sound of the cannon, far or near, (rousing, even in dreams, a devilish exultation, and all the old mad joy, in the depths of my soul;)
And ever the hastening of infantry shifting positions—batteries, cavalry, moving hither and thither;
(The falling, dying, I heed not—the wounded, dripping and red, I heed not—some to the rear are hobbling;
Grime, heat, rush—aid-de-camps galloping by, or on a full run;
With the patter of small arms, the warning s-s-t of the rifles, (these in my vision I hear or see,)
And bombs busting in air, and at night the vari-color’d rockets.

We're coming up on the one hundred forty-second anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 to July 3, 1863) and the conclusion of the Vicksburg Campaign (May 19 to July 4, 1863). With Shelby Foote's death yesterday and the Fourth of July this weekend it's appropriate to remember the most important event in our nation's history. Of course i'm talking about the Civil War.

Yesterday in the comments to my post about Shelby Foote's death i mentioned how i am fascinated by the differences between our own time and the way people lived in the time of the Civil War.

We all have a pretty good idea of how soldiers fight today. Heck, we've grown up watching war on tv. But it's almost impossible for most of us to imagine how men fought during the Civil War. It must have taken a special kind of courage and discipline to march side by side with a bunch of other men towards a line of cannon and guns.

Posted by annika, Jun. 29, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: History & Poetry

June 22, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: T.S. Eliot

i had been planning to do a parody of the whole Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes nonsense by altering the words to T.S. Eliot's Song of the Jellicles. But i couldn't get it to work; the meter was all wrong and "Tomicle Kats are not too bright" was about the best line i could come up with. Not very good at all, especially compared to the original, so i abandoned the idea.

What a coincidence that Mark Nicodemo (a brand new Munuvian btw, congratulations) would reference another poem from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats in my comments section. Great minds, i guess. So, i decided this week i'll post the Song of the Jellicles, unaltered of course.

The Song Of The Jellicles

Jellicle Cats come out tonight,
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright--
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practise their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
They make their toilette and take their repose:
Jellicles wash behind their ears,
Jellicles dry between their toes.

Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicles jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.
They're quiet enough in the morning hours,
They're quiet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their terpsichorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats (as I said) are small;
If it happens to be a stormy night
They will practise a caper or two in the hall.
If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say they had nothing to do at all:
They are resting and saving themselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball.

Posted by annika, Jun. 22, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

June 21, 2005

Saddam Poetry: Sonnet

The bawdy dictator:

I Wish I Had A Candle And A Fine Woman

I wish I had a candle and a fine woman.
These finer things are meant for men like me.
Not meant for kurd-man, shiite or the jew-man,
whom i buried in mass graves o’er by that tree.
You understand what women give to me,
but wherefor say I candle? Do you ask?
To know how waxen tapers meet my need,
picture me, Uday, and my friend monsieur Jacques.
T’was many years ago, on a debauch
in London’s town or was it Amsterdam’s?
We caught a sex show -- wonderment to watch.
This chick had knockers like two great big hams.
Now what I’m ‘bout to tell you, keep hush-hush.
She did things with that candle made me blush.

Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

Saddam Poetry: Free Verse

A Perfect Woman, My Sons

not too smart
not too dumb
not too old
not too young
not too pretty
not too skank
find such a girl
no need to wank

Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

Saddam Poetry: haiku

You're like sons to me
so i give you this advice:
don't eat with wipe hand.

Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

June 20, 2005


Susie Susie Sue
Sue Sue Susio Susie
See See Susie See


Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

June 19, 2005

Sunday Poetry Bee

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.



Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily:
     Merrily, merrily, shall I live now,
     Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.


Burly, dozing humble-bee,
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique,
Far-off heats through seas to seek;
I will follow thee alone,
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer,
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer, me thy hearer,
Singing over shrubs and vines.


Posted by annika, Jun. 19, 2005 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

June 15, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: O'Hara

Another favorite poem by one of my favorites poets, Frank O'Hara:

Why I Am Not A Painter

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
"Sit down and have a drink" he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. "You have SARDINES in it."
"Yes, it needed something there."
"Oh." I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. "Where's SARDINES?"
All that's left is just
letters, "It was too much," Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven't mentioned
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike's painting, called SARDINES.

Today's entry is dedicated to a blogger who appreciates great art, The Maximum Leader. Happy Birthday!

Posted by annika, Jun. 15, 2005 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

June 08, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Cole Porter

As i did last year, in honor of Cole Porter's birthday on June 9th, today's poem is a song lyric.


Paris Hilton's sexy new commercial for Carl's Jr. restaurants features the heiress washing a car to the music of Cole Porter's famous "I Love Paris."

Everyone knows the words to that song, written in 1952, for the musical Can-Can, which ran at Broadway's Schubert theater for 892 performances.

That song always reminds me of one night in Paris a few years back, stumbling back to my hotel in the Latin Quarter after a great drunk, smoking a Gitanes and mumbling the words in order to keep awake and upright.

"God... Oh God... do i love Paris... Because my room is near..."

But the same man who wrote I Love Paris, also wrote the following lyric, which i quote for you all as you try to decide where to spend your summer vacation this year.

See America First

Of European lands effete,
A most inveterate foe,
My feelings when my camp I greet
Are such as patriots know.
Condemning trips across the blue
As dollars badly dispersed,
I hold that loyal men and true,
Including in the category all of you,
Should see America first,
Should see America first.

All hail salubrious sky,
All hail salubrious sky.
Observe when I invoke the sky
It echoes reassuringly
That one should try to see America first,
To see America first.

Of course it's really not the sky,
But just a repetition of his battle cry,
To see America first,
To see America first,

So ev'ry true American,
Whether right or red or black or tan,
Should push this patriotic plan
To see America first.

See America First was the first Cole Porter musical produced on Broadway, back in 1916. He went on to write twenty-three Broadway shows over five decades, and something over 800 songs. According to Robert Kimball's The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter, the above lyric for the title song was changed to a more "Cohan-esque" version for the actual show. Hard to imagine old George M. finding fault with the original, though.

Posted by annika, Jun. 8, 2005 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

June 01, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Shamseddin Mohammad (Hafiz)

Shamseddin Mohammad was a great Persian mystic and poet of the fourteenth century. He is known as Hafiz, which was a title given to one who had memorized the entire Koran. Hafiz wrote something like 800 ghazals (long time Poetry Wed readers may remember this post, about a García Lorca ghazal) and much of his work explored the subject of spiritual love. That means God's love for us, and our love of God. The Ladinsky translations are very good and seem to preserve a lot of the humor that is supposedly in the original Persian.

I Know the Way You Can Get

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one's self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love's

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

Here is the story of how the young Hafiz, who worked in a bakery, decided to devote his life to God:
[O]ne day at the bakery, one of the workers who delivered the bread was sick, and Hafiz had to deliver the bread to a certain quarter of Shiraz where the prosperous citizens lived. While taking the bread to a particular mansion, Hafiz's eyes fell upon the form of a young woman who was standing on one of the mansion's balconies. Her name was Shakh-i-Nabat which means 'Branch of Sugarcane'. Her beauty immediately intoxicated Hafiz and he fell hopelessly in love with her. Her beauty had such a profound effect on him that he almost lost consciousness. At night he could not sleep and he no longer felt like eating. He learnt her name and he began to praise her in his poems.

Hafiz heard that she had been promised in marriage to a prince of Shiraz and realized how hopeless was his quest for her love. Still, the vision of her beauty filled his heart, and his thoughts were constantly with her. Then one day he remembered the famous 'promise of Baba Kuhi'. Baba Kuhi was a Perfect Master-Poet. . . . The promise that Baba Kuhi had given before he died was that if anyone could stay awake for forty consecutive nights at his tomb he would be granted the gift of poetry, immortality, and his heart's desire. Hafiz, interested in the third of these three, vowed to keep this vigil that no one had yet been able to keep.

Every day Hafiz would go to work at the bakery, then he would eat, and then walk past the house of Shakh-i-Nabat, who had heard some of the poems that he had composed in praise of her. She had noticed him passing her window every afternoon, each day more weary, but with a fire in his eyes that had lit the lamp of her heart for him. By this time Hafiz was in a kind of a trance. Everything that he did was automatic, and the only thing that kept him going was the fire in his heart and his determination to keep the lonely vigil.

Early the next morning the Angel Gabriel (some say Khizer) appeared to him. Gabriel gave Hafiz a cup to drink which contained the Water of Immortality, and declared that Hafiz had also received the gift of poetry. Then Gabriel asked Hafiz to express his heart's desire. All the time that this was happening, Hafiz could not take his eyes of Gabriel. So great was the beauty of the Angel that Hafiz had forgotten the beauty of Shakh-i-Nabat. After Gabriel had asked the question, Hafiz thought; 'If Gabriel the Angel of God is so beautiful, then how much more beautiful God must be.' Hafiz answered Gabriel: 'I want God!'

In his lifetime, Hafiz had a large following but he was not popular with the fundamentalist clergy of his day. He was exiled for a time, and at his death they tried unsuccessfully to stop Hafiz from being buried as a Muslim because his poetry was not pious enough.

Posted by annika, Jun. 1, 2005 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

May 25, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Wordsworth

The lawyer i work for at my summer job is a brilliant and very literary guy. He makes me realize how little i really learned in school about literature and poetry. He can recite T.S. Eliot and Keats from memory; it's quite impressive. But he has a Masters in English, which i don't have.

Today we had a long conversation about art and poetry and he mentioned that he loved Wordsworth. i said that the only poem i remembered by Wordsworth was one about London, which i discovered while i lived there for a short time. He said "oh yes, the sonnet 'Composed on Westminster Bridge'" i said, "um yah, that one." He then recited it from memory.

Way to make me feel uneducated, dude.


Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

i love that poem because it's as atmospheric as the Monet i posted up above, which i saw in person at the National Gallery. "This City now doth like a garment wear/ The beauty of the morning; silent, bare." Reminds me of so many lovely mornings i spent walking to class through the ancient gray city. Just lovely.

Posted by annika, May. 25, 2005 | link | Comments (9)
Rubric: Poetry

May 18, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here's a cute one by Jenny Joseph (b. 1932):


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn´t go, and doesn´t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we´ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I´m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people´s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes to keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

Sounds like a plan.

Posted by annika, May. 18, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

May 11, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Ginsberg

[Dreadfully sorry about the tardiness thing. Finals you know.]

A Ginsberg poem has been overdue for quite some time. Here's one that references Ken Kesey: beat author, champion wrestler, CIA guinea pig, author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and a man who arguably inspired today's rave scene with his Electric Kool Aid Acid Tests of the mid-sixties, which in turn launched the careers of Tom Wolfe and The Grateful Dead.

Here's how his friend, Allen Ginsberg, described one of Kesey's infamous get-togethers in 1965:

First Party at Ken Kesey's with Hell's Angels

Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets. In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.

If you look, Kesey's name seems to pop up everywhere. The Who and The Beatles wrote songs about his antics. Hunter S. Thompson introduced him to the Hells Angels, who became regular fixtures at Kesey's parties in the hills west of Palo Alto. (That is, until September 1966, when several of them beat him up pretty badly.) Timothy Leary and Jack Kerouac met him, but were unimpressed. Neal Cassady and Robert Pirsig were close friends. Kesey was like the Kevin Bacon of the beat and hippie countercultures.

More poetry: Steve celebrates his new OS with a little Blake.

Posted by annika, May. 11, 2005 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

May 04, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

This 1992 poem by Jo Shapcott makes me want to open my refrigerator and apologize.

Vegetable Love

I´d like to say the fridge
was clean, but look at the rusty
streaks down the back wall
and the dusty brown pools
underneath the salad crisper.

And this is where I´ve lived
the past two weeks, since I was pulled
from the vegetable garden.
I´m wild for him: I want to stay crunchy
enough to madden his hard palate and his tongue,
every sensitive part inside his mouth.
But almost hour by hour now, it seems,
I can feel my outer leaves losing resistance,
as oxygen leaks in, water leaks out
and the same tendency creeps further
and further towards my heart.

Down here there´s not much action,
just me and another, even limper, lettuce
and half an onion. The door opens so many,
so many times a day, but he never opens
the salad drawer where I´m curled in a corner.

There´s an awful lot of meat. Strange cuts:
whole limbs with their grubby hair,
wings and thighs of large birds,
claws and beaks. New juice
gathers pungency as it rolls down
through the smelly strata of the refrigerator,
and drips on to our fading heads.

The thermostat is kept as low as it will go,
and when the weather changes
for the worse, what´s nearest
to the bottom of the fridge starts to freeze.
Three times we´ve had cold snaps,
and I´ve felt the terrifying pain
as ice crystals formed at my fringes.

Insulation isn´t everything in here:
you´ve got to relax into the cold,
let it in at every pore. It´s proper
for food preservation. But I heat up
again at the thought of him,
at the thought of mixing into one juice
with his saliva, of passing down his throat
and being ingested with the rest
into his body cells where I´ll learn
by osmosis another lovely version
of curl, then shrivel, then open again to desire.

More food poetry: Kevin posted something about the beguiling food-like substance, Nutella. With pictures here.

Posted by annika, May. 4, 2005 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

April 27, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Amichai

The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924 - 2000) is the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David. He was born in Würzburg, Germany and emigrated to Jerusalem in the thirties. He enlisted in the British Army and later fought as a commando in the Negev Desert during the 1948 War of Independence.

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier described Amichai's work this way: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Yehuda Amichai is his composure. From a life cluttered with ancient torments, with the collective memory of his people's pains and the personal recollection of his own, he calmly extracts the essences, and leaves the rest for laughter. These are elementary poems by an elementary man."

This one, i love:

A Man In His Life

A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.

A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
what history
takes years and years to do.

A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.

And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.

He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there's time for everything.

Posted by annika, Apr. 27, 2005 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

April 20, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Longfellow

Monday was the 230th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride. The famous 1863 poem, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the few poems i have ever memorized. Although now i can only recite the first few lines from memory, i love it all the same.

It's a long one, but if you've never read it please enjoy it all the way to the end. Longfellow was great at telling a story, and this is a great story to tell. Listen to the galloping rhythm of the meter as you read. It's wonderful.

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."


Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.


A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.


It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.


You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Stirring. Doesn't that give you goose-bumps?

The other poems i've memorized include Jabberwocky, The Star Spangled Banner and Desdemona's lines from a scene i did for a college acting class. The only one still left in my head is Jabberwocky.

If you're interested, here's a history of the various frigates named H.M.S. Somerset.

Posted by annika, Apr. 20, 2005 | link | Comments (6)
Rubric: Poetry

April 13, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Snodgrass

Now that it's out on DVD, i finally saw last year's Oscar nominated movie, Sideways. i'm not sure i get the whole "male midlife crisis" thing, but it seems to be a major theme in a lot of movies.

Here's a poem by W. D. Snodgrass, perfect for April, which also deals with the midlife crisis theme.

April Inventory

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.

The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.

The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I'd ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who's trusted me
I'd be substantial, presently.

I haven't read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.

And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead's notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler's.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.

I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.

I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body's hunger;
That I have forces true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.

While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.

Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.

Posted by annika, Apr. 13, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

National Poetry Month

Besides being the cruelest month, April is also National Poetry Month.

The poet Charles Bernstein doesn't think National Poetry Month is good for poetry. He writes: "promoting poetry as if it were an 'easy listening' station just reinforces the idea that poetry is culturally irrelevant and has done a disservice not only to poetry deemed too controversial or difficult to promote but also to the poetry it puts forward in this way." i see where he's coming from. That's why at annika's journal i do my own dissservice to poetry all year long. Anyways, i liked this idea from Bernstein's essay:

As an alternative to National Poetry Month, I propose that we have an International Anti-Poetry month. As part of the activities, all verse in public places will be covered over—from the Statue of Liberty to the friezes on many of our government buildings. Poetry will be removed from radio and TV (just as it is during the other eleven months of the year). Parents will be asked not to read Mother Goose and other rimes to their children but only ... fiction. Religious institutions will have to forego reading verse passages from the liturgy and only prose translations of the Bible will recited, with hymns strictly banned. Ministers in the Black churches will be kindly requested to stop preaching. Cats will be closed for the month by order of the Anti-Poetry Commission. Poetry readings will be replaced by self-help lectures. Love letters will have to be written only in expository paragraphs. Baseball will have to start its spring training in May. No vocal music will be played on the radio or sung in the concert halls. Children will have to stop playing all slapping and counting and singing games and stick to board games and football.
Read the whole essay here.

Posted by annika, Apr. 13, 2005 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

April 06, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Karol Wojtyla

Pope John Paul was an accomplished poet, which is not surprising since he seemed to love the arts. During WWII, he worked in a quarry under forced labor conditions. It was dangerous work. He wrote a sequence called "The Quarry," and the following excerpt was written about a fellow worker who had died in an accident.

He wasn't alone.
His muscles grew into the flesh of the crowd, energy their pulse,
As long as they held a hammer, as long as his feet felt the ground.
And a stone smashed his temples and cut through his heart's chamber.
They took his body and walked in a silent line
Toil still lingered about him, a sense of wrong.
They wore gray blouses, boots ankle-deep in mud.
In this, they showed the end.
How violently his time halted: the pointers on the low voltage dials jerked, then dropped to zero again.
White stone now within him, eating into his being, taking over enough of him to turn him into stone.
Who will lift up that stone, unfurl his thoughts again under the cracked temples?
So plaster cracks on the wall.
They laid him down, his back on a sheet of gravel.
His wife came, worn out with worry; his son returned from school
Should his anger now flow into the anger of others?
It was maturing in him through his own truth and love
Should he be used by those who came after, deprived of substance, unique and deeply his own?
The stones on the move again; a wagon bruising the flowers.
Again the electric current cuts deep into the walls.
But the man has taken with him the world's inner structure,where the greater the anger, the higher the explosion of love.

Ironically, while the quarry killed the subject of that poem, it actually saved Karol's life. Many people from his town had been rounded up by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz and other death camps, including theatre friends and University teachers. (The town of Wadowice was about 20% Jewish before the war.) Karol was himself arrested in 1942, but released because quarry work was considered a "vital industry."

More poetry by the late Pope can be found at the Frontline site, along with a discussion of his work by poet Lynn Powell.

[cross-posted at A Western Heart]

Posted by annika, Apr. 6, 2005 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: Poetry

March 30, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

What might the great Walt Whitman have said about what's going on in Florida?

To One Shortly to Die

From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you:
You are to die—Let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you—There is no escape for you.

Softly I lay my right hand upon you—you just feel it,
I do not argue—I bend my head close, and half envelope it,
I sit quietly by—I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself, spiritual, bodily—that is eternal—you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.

The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions!
Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence—you smile!
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines—you do not mind the weeping friends—I am with you,
I exclude others from you—there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate—I congratulate you.

Posted by annika, Mar. 30, 2005 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

March 23, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Elizabeth Bishop is one of America's best loved poets. i think her work is like a watercolor painting: simple, easy, but so deceptively intricate. The closer you look, the more her genius reveals itself.

Since everybody's grumbling these days about gas prices, i thought i'd select a nostalgic poem that takes us back to the days when gas was cheap, Exxon was Esso, and full service was the rule.

Filling Station

Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it's a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color--
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

This being poetry Wednesday, let me also refer you to Ginger, who has something nice, and also to Jeff, who has something silly.

Posted by annika, Mar. 23, 2005 | link | Comments (0)
Rubric: Poetry

March 16, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad (1933-1967) wrote about freedom using the imagery of erotic love. Although she died in a car accident before the Islamic Revolution, she still lived in a society where women's roles were strictly defined. Her poetry, after being banned for many years, is enjoying huge popularity these days in Iran.

Farrokhzad was a rebel who challenged cultural and political absolutism in her all-too-brief, 15-year literary career. She was a daring explorer of a public language of intimacy and transgression. The epitome of what the Islamic Republic wanted to eradicate, Farrokhzad is now the Iranian equivalent of a rock star. . . .

Her popularity is one of the many dizzying paradoxes any casual visitor encounters in Iran 25 years after the Islamic revolution. Iranian women can drive cars but cannot ride bicycles. They are on the world stage as Nobel Peace laureates, human rights activists, best-selling authors, prize-winning film directors and Oscar nominees -- yet they cannot leave the country without the written permission of their husbands. They are some of the most fashionable women in the world but must observe an obligatory dress code in Iran.

From The Washington Post

It's easy for me to imagine why Farrokhzad would appeal to the women of today's Iran. She challenged sexual mores by leaving her husband when she was twenty-one to be with her lover. What would the mullahs have done with such a poet, i wonder. Her writing is celebratory, unapolagetic, and very sexual.

I Sinned

Beside a body, tremulous and dazed
I sinned, I voluptuously sinned.
O God! How could I know what I did
in that dark retreat of silence?

In that dark retreat of silence
I looked into his mysterious eyes
my heart trembled restlessly
at the pleading in his eyes.

In that dark retreat of silence
I sat, disheveled, beside him
passion poured from his lips into mine
saved I was from the a agony of a foolish heart.

I whispered the tale of love in his ears:
I want you, 0 sweetheart of mine
I want you, 0 life-giving bosom
I want you, 0 mad lover of mine.

Passion struck a flame in his eyes
the red wine danced in the glass
in the soft bed, my body
shivered drunk on his breast.

I sinned, I voluptuously sinned
in arms hot and fiery
I sinned in his arms
iron-strong, hot, and avenging.

i am amazed at the new popularity of Farrokhzad's poetry. It's a good sign. In Reading Lolita In Tehran, Azar Nafisi writes about the oppressive ideological censorship under the mullahs after the Revolution:
Our world under the mullahs' rule was shaped by the colorless lenses of the blind censor. [Afisi notes that the chief censor, up until 1994, actually was blind.] Not just our reality but also our fiction had taken on this curious coloration in a world where the censor was the poet's rival in rearranging and reshaping reality, where we simultaneously invented ourselves and were figments of someone else's imagination.

. . .

In the course of nearly two decades, the streets have been turned into a war zone, where young women who disobey the rules are hurled into patrol cars, taken to jail, flogged, fined, forced to wash the toilets and humiliated, and as soon as they leave, they go back and do the same thing. . . . [H]ow vulnerable the Revolutionary Guards are who for over eighteen years have patrolled the streets of Tehran and have had to endure young women . . . walking, talking, showing a strand of hair just to remind them that they have not converted.

Forugh Farrokhzad is a heroine for this new generation of Iranian women, who long to be free.

Born Again

The clock flew away
The curtain went away with the wind
I had squeezed him
In the halo of fire
I wanted to speak
But, ohh!
His dense shady eyelashes
Like the fringes of a silk curtain
Flowed from the depth of darkness
Along the quiver, that deadly quivers,
Down the lost end of mine

I felt I was being freed,
I felt I was being freed,

I felt my skin burst in the expansion of love
I felt my fiery mass melt slowly,
And then it trickled
Down into the moon, the sunken, agitated dark moon

Wow. A poem about orgasm and its afterglow, yes, but it's really about revolution, isn't it?

[Technorati Tag: ]

Posted by annika, Mar. 16, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

March 11, 2005

Friday Poetry Extra

There's a fun poem, "The Discovery of Sex" by Debra Spencer, at today's Writer's Almanac.

Garrison Keillor also reminds us that today is Douglas Adams' birthday.

Posted by annika, Mar. 11, 2005 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

March 10, 2005

What'd i Say???

i ask you. When i did the KISS Haiku Contest about a month ago, was i anything but respectful to KISS or their fans?

Either of them?

Sure i was a little tongue-in-cheek at times, but nothing that Gene Simmons himself wouldn't have appreciated.

So i got this comment today from some dude with sense of humor issues.

Name: Iggy
Email Address: iggy@kissrocks.com


Kiss Rules-Fuck you and your site!! BIATCH!!!

Ouch. That wit is razor sharp.

And you wonder why i drink so much.

Posted by annika, Mar. 10, 2005 | link | Comments (6)
Rubric: Poetry

March 09, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Paul suggested Raymond Carver, and i thought, great idea, everybody loves Raymond, right? i swear i've heard that name before, too. So i checked my extensive poetry library (um, shelf) and would you believe it? Not a single Ramond Carver piece in any of the various anthologies i have.

Okay, to the web. Raymond Carver is described thusly at Writer's Calendar:

American short-story writer and poet, a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s. Carver's reputation continued to grow after his death at the age of fifty.

. . .

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, a mill town on the Columbia River in Oregon. His father, a sawmill worker, was an alcoholic. At home he used to tell him stories about his own hunting and fishing exploits, and about his grandfather, who had fought in the Civil War, for both sides.

Carver, who died in 1988, studied at Cal State Chico and Cal State Humboldt, where he got his BA. (Both are infamous party schools today.) Chico honors him with a festival every year. Carver also taught English at Syracuse, and Jay McInerney (author of the eighties classic, Bright Lights, Big City) is a former student.
Carver published his . . . first poem, 'The Brass Ring,' in Targets, which also had a poem by Charles Bukowski. During these years of working in different jobs, rising kids, and trying to write, Carver started to drink. 'Alcohol became a problem. I more or less gave up, threw in the towel, and took to full-time drinking as a serious pursuit.'
Today's poem is a drunk poem, but a good one.


Vodka chased with coffee. Each morning
I hang the sign on the door:


But no one pays attention; my friends
look at the sign and
sometimes leave little notes,
or else they call - Come out and play,
Ray - mond.

Once my son, that bastard,
slipped in and left me a colored egg
and a walking stick.
I think he drank some of my vodka.
And last week my wife dropped by
with a can of beef soup
and a carton of tears.
She drank some of my vodka, too, I think,
then left hurriedly in a strange car
with a man I'd never seen before.
They don't understand; I'm fine,
just fine where I am, for any day now
I shall be, I shall be, I shall be . . .

I intend to take all the time in this world,
consider everything, even miracles,
yet remain on guard, ever
more careful, more watchful,
against those who would sin against me,
against those who would steal vodka,
against those who would do me harm.

The end of Carver's bio is both redemptive and tragic.
On June 2, 1977 Carver stopped drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. After this 'line of demarcation' his stories became increasingly more expansive. In 1982 Carver divorced Maryann. From 1979 Carver had lived with the poet Tess Gallagher (b.1943), they had met at a writers' conference in Dallas. They married in 1988. The wedding took place in Reno. Two months later, on August 2, 1988, the author died of lung cancer. . . . After writing [the] story, 'Errand,' about Chekhov's death, Carver learned that he had cancer.
The Writer's Calendar bio compares Carver's poetry and prose to Chekov, Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, Kafka, Pinter, and Richard Ford. (i'm a fan of all of those writers, with the possible exception of Ford. So, thanks for the suggestion, Paul, i'll have to check out more of Carver's stuff.)

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2005 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

March 02, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The Roman poet Ovidius, who was Jesus' contemporary, knew a little bit about the ladies. As a public service for my male visitors, whether single and looking or happily married, i have selected the following excerpt from Ovid's The Art of Love. Ovid's poetry is always fun, despite the fact that he was a lawyer. It's amazing how timeless his advice can be.

Book I Part XIV

Don’t delight in curling your hair with tongs,
don’t smooth your legs with sharp pumice stone.
Leave that to those who celebrate Cybele the Mother,
howling wildly in the Phrygian manner.
Male beauty’s better for neglect: Theseus
carried off Ariadne, without a single pin in his hair.
Phaedra loved Hippolytus: he was unsophisticated:
Adonis was dear to the goddess, and fit for the woods.
Neatness pleases, a body tanned from exercise:
a well fitting and spotless toga’s good:
no stiff shoe-thongs, your buckles free of rust,
no sloppy feet for you, swimming in loose hide:
don’t mar your neat hair with an evil haircut:
let an expert hand trim your head and beard.
And no long nails, and make sure they’re dirt-free:
and no hairs please, sprouting from your nostrils.
No bad breath exhaled from unwholesome mouth:
don’t offend the nose like a herdsman or his flock.
Leave the rest for impudent women to do,
or whoever’s the sort of man who needs a man.

Translation by A. S. Kline, 2001.

In other words, don't stink, brush your teeth once in a while, keep yourself clean, but not too neat. Some muscles and a nice tan are always a plus. Chicks still dig a manly man, so please don't shave your legs and it's time to stop getting free haircuts from mom. Spend the money on a good stylist, but don't overdo it. You don't wanna look like a chick, and you definitely don't wanna look gay.

A lumberjack style plaid toga might have been a good choice when cruising the forum for babes, i would imagine.

Posted by annika, Mar. 2, 2005 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

February 25, 2005

Dr. Seuss Blushed

Kevin's latest poem, about his cat.


*dials 911*

Posted by annika, Feb. 25, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

February 23, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Greetings humans. This Wednesday, i bring you...

Robot Love Poetry!

A simple google search yielded this gem:

Poem 3

by TB788-E10-D

Oh baby you're so divine
with all those terabytes of fast cache
behind your flip-o-flex patented green irises.
I love the look of your sleek silver fins
and your interchangeable gold-rimmed
elbow and knee joints.

Oh, you are such a fashion statement baby.

The sight of your one point eight kilo capacity
frontal lobes makes me want to
re-scan the Kama Sutra every seven seconds
and stochastically generate a thousand and one
new positions for us to try.

Let's inter-collate indices daily
and murmur at sunset another tale from
Arabian Nights.
Oh, you exotic chrome and vanadium sweetie.
Oh, how I dig you to bits.

Pretty funny, but shouldn't it properly be called Poem 11?*

Also check out "Robot Barcode Poetry" at a blog called Sean. And there are some interesting Robot Builder limericks at the nerdy Dallas Personal Robotics Group website.

* As in: Only 11 more days until the end of Robot Week!

Posted by annika, Feb. 23, 2005 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

February 16, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

In keeping with this week's grumpy Valentine's Day theme, i've selected the perfect sonnet from my favorite poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
      That you were gone, not to return again—
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
      Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
      And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—
      At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry
      Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—
I should but watch the station lights rush by
      With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

Ouch. Edna could be a snarky bitch when she wanted to.

Which was often.

Posted by annika, Feb. 16, 2005 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

February 09, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

It's also Ash Wednesday, so i had no choice but to post an excerpt from T. S. Eliot's long poem of the same name.

i've given up trying to figure out Eliot. i've concluded that it's more about how his art makes you feel. Just like looking at a Kandinsky, or listening to Ornette Coleman. If the message could have been communicated in prose, it would have been. But that was not what the artist intended.

Still i get the vague feeling that Eliot is writing about mortality here, but then the title is a big clue. By mortality, i mean more than just death, but all the limitations of a mortal life. All those things that are so maddeningly finite while we are here on earth: our knowledge, our understanding, and our strength of will.

If you are able to, try reading this thing out loud. For meter and rhyme, it is a fabulous piece of writing.

Ash Wednesday (excerpt)

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

The rest of the poem is similar, although different religious themes are explored, in an equally indecipherable manner. What fascinates me the most is how the rhythm becomes almost hip-hop in places.

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

      O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

i swear that sounds like rap. Someone should really put a beat to it.

Posted by annika, Feb. 9, 2005 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

February 08, 2005

KISS This Contest Goodbye

Allright, i guess i've dragged out this suspense bullshit long enough. i told you i had decision-making issues.

The winner of the KISS haiku contest is a poem that, i think, most completely encapsulates the kick-ass, devil-may-care, throw-caution-to-the-wind, damn-the-torpedoes, rock-and-roll-all-nite attitude of that band we all know and love to hate. Or not.

One in my tight pants.
One in my make-up caked mouth.
Which lizard, baby?

E-mail me to claim you prize, and congratulations, Cameron!

Posted by annika, Feb. 8, 2005 | link | Comments (13)
Rubric: Poetry

February 06, 2005

KISS Haiku Contest Update

i've narrowed it down to ten finalists in my kiss.gif haiku contest. i wanted to make it nine, but i just can't bring myself to cut one from the list. i think the finalists represent a pretty good mix of the gross haiku, the historical perspective haiku, the anti-KISS haiku, and the haiku with the humorous twist. Here they are:

Tony understands law school and haiku:

Rock and roll all night;
Party ev'ry day - sounds like
Law school's Free Beer Day.

i love Kevin's use of the double entendre here:

it's on video
I saw Annie blow a KISS
hope you've got Quicktime

And this one is just gross, but what else do you expect from the Big Hominid?

ass of Gene Simmons
rudely penetrated by
tongue of Gene Simmons

Tuning Spork says he was trying to introduce meter and rhyme into the contest. i'm not sure he succeded, but i did like this one, which pretty succinctly describes the KISS career cycle:

Paul and Gene in charge;
Ace and Peter hit the road.
Crowds were not as large.

Pursuit's final line in this next haiku is hilarious:

Gene thinks he is hot
Long, gross tongue, hideous face
please leave now, old man

The next one, by a man i once called "The Mark Russell of the Blogosphere" (perhaps prematurely), had me ROTFL:

One in my tight pants.
One in my make-up caked mouth.
Which lizard, baby?

And Emily's lone submission is a crowd favorite, not in spite of, but because of its disregard for the rules.

Gene, stick that frickin' tongue of yours
back in your mouth you filthy
damn pig

Tom gained the support of the Maximum World Order's poet laureate with this one:

My wife saw you play
you spit on her with fake blood
I hope it was fake

El Capitan's haiku were all great, but i picked this one because i figured we had to have at least one poem in the finals that didn't bash KISS:

Ted Nugent opened
KISS then took the stage and then
Blew the damn roof off

And i like the message in number ten, also by El Capitan. To me it says: resistance is futile, you will be assimilated by the KISS Army, regardless of how sucky the band is.

Simple loud cock-rock
Cartoon show for teenage boys
Just embrace your youth

The unfortunate thing about contests is that not everyone can win. Honorable mentions should go to D-Rod for his attempt to work Valentine's day into the contest; Ted for making fun of Victor's Joe Don Baker obsession; Victor for actually working the word "autumn" into his haiku without sounding forced; Shelly and Tom for their slightly non-conforming poems, which i'm convinced were intentionally tweaked ("Haku?" ... "Wed-nes-day?"); Derek for making the only stoner reference, however oblique, in a contest about a rock-and-roll band; and Tuning Spork for the haiku that ended with "please hand me a gun" which made me snort liquid.

Any help in deciding a winner is welcome.

Posted by annika, Feb. 6, 2005 | link | Comments (17)
Rubric: Poetry

February 05, 2005

And The Winner Is The Award Goes To

i'm going through the fifty haiku submitted in the kiss.gif haiku contest, and they're all so good, i'm having trouble selecting a winner. i'm considering scrapping my own secretive and arbitrary criteria and substituting the method used by my property professor when he graded last semester's final exams. That is, so far as i can guess, to find a tall stairway, go to the top, throw all the submissions down the stairs and judge them according to where they land.

Posted by annika, Feb. 5, 2005 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: Poetry

February 02, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Action figures have been in the news recently, so i selected this week's poem accordingly. You may recall that Barbie used to go out with a guy named Ken (That was before she started seeing G.I. Joe, of course.) Barbie and Ken were a cute couple, and Ken was a real doll. But they had their struggles, just like any two lovers. i hear they once toyed with the idea of marriage, but as their relationship soured, eventually they had to call it quits. Some say Ken was gay, and i don't know if that is true or not, but the following poem shows that they had other issues too.


They decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin
over Ken's bulging neck socket. His wide jaw line jostles
atop his girlfriend's body, loosely,
like one of those novelty dogs
destined to gaze from the back windows of cars.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country Camper
unsure what they'll do when they're within touching distance.
Ken wants to feel Barbie's toes between his lips,
take off one of her legs and force his whole arm inside her.
With only the vaguest suggestion of genitals,
all the alluring qualities they possess as fashion dolls,
up until now, have done neither of them much good.
But suddenly Barbie is excited looking at her own body
under the weight of Ken's face. He is part circus freak,
part thwarted hermaphrodite. And she is imagining
she is somebody else-- maybe somebody middle class and ordinary,
maybe another teenage model being caught in a scandal.

The night had begun with Barbie getting angry
at finding Ken's blow up doll, folded and stuffed
under the couch. He was defensive and ashamed, especially about
not having the breath to inflate her. But after a round
of pretend-tears, Barbie and Ken vowed to try
to make their relationship work. With their good memories
as sustaining as good food, they listened to late-night radio
talk shows, one featuring Doctor Ruth. When all else fails,
just hold each other, the small sex therapist crooned.
Barbie and Ken, on cue, groped in the dark,
their interchangeable skin glowing, the color of Band-Aids.
Then, they let themselves go-- Soon Barbie was begging Ken
to try on her spandex miniskirt. She showed him how
to pivot as though he was on a runway. Ken begged
to tie Barbie onto his yellow surfboard and spin her
on the kitcen table until she grew dizzy. Anything,
anything, they both said to the other's requests,
their mirrored desires bubbling from the most unlikely places.

By Denise Duhamel, a modern writer who some have called a "feminist poet." Although i don't think she objects to being placed in that pigeonhole, her poetry is often very funny and worthy of a wide audience.

Posted by annika, Feb. 2, 2005 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

January 31, 2005

A Fabulous Prize Will Be Awarded

What could possibly be more absurdly ridiculous than Victor's impromptu Joe Don Baker haiku contest last September? i don't know if that boondoggle can be topped, but i'd like to give it a try.

So today, in a moment of dubious inspiration, i decided that i should hold a kiss.gif haiku contest. Like last time, there will be a prize for the winner. Unlike last time, i will pick a time limit and stick to it.

i think KISS is funny, but it doesn't matter if you despise them, or if you're a lifelong member of of the KISS Army. Hell, half the contestants in the Joe Don Baker contest never even heard of the man. All entries are welcome, and will be judged strictly according to my own secretive and arbitrary criteria.

Please feel free to post your entries here by 10:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, February 3, 2005. i will then select a winner, who will receive a very nice mystery prize. The rest of you i will see in the boardroom, where somebody will be fired.

Update: Thenk you to everyone who participated. Fifty excellent poems were submitted. Now i must try to decide upon a winner.

Posted by annika, Jan. 31, 2005 | link | Comments (40)
Rubric: Poetry

January 28, 2005

Carnival Of The Poetries Update

Oh my, how could i have missed Kevin's latest haiku offering, on the Star Wars meme. An excerpt:

Princess Leia knows
she can never tell poor Han
that she blew Chewie
If Kevin were a gigantic slow moving furry bearded ram (and i can point to no evidence that he is not), i might be tempted to dub him the Basho of the Bantha.

While you're at it, check out my lastest attempt to augment my referrals.

Posted by annika, Jan. 28, 2005 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: Poetry & photoshopaholic

January 26, 2005

Today Is Poetry Wednesday

Emily Dickinson wrote:

Who never lost, are unprepared
A coronet to find;
Who never thirsted, flagons
And cooling tamarind.

Who never climbed the weary league—
Can such a foot explore
The purple territories
On Pizarro’s shore?

How many legions overcome?
The emperor will say.
How many colors taken
On Revolution Day?

How many bullets bearest?
The royal scar hast thou?
Angels, write "Promoted"
On this soldier’s brow!

Hang in there, G—

More: Don't miss the Maximum Leader's tribute to Robert Burns!.

Nor should you miss Queenie's Everyday Haiku. An excerpt:

winter skin itching;
unkempt nails claw at the breast
titties is too hot

And then Venomous Kate, picks up the meme with her own series of haiku:

gray river of dust
flows along edge of carpet
vacuum cleaners suck
And finally, Cameron picks a fight with modernist shibboleths, with his poem about poetry.

Posted by annika, Jan. 26, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

January 19, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Better late than never, but this one is worth the wait. It's by Eighteenth Century English poet, Thomas Gray. Like many a favorite poem, it's about temptation and desire.

On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes

’Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow,
Demurest of the tabby kind
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared:
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes—
She saw, and purr’d applause.

Still had she gazed, but ’midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour’s Tyrian hue
Through richest purple, to the view
Betray’d a golden gleam.

The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw
With many an ardent wish
She stretch’d, in vain, to reach the prize—
What female heart can gold despise?
What Cat’s averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch’d, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between—
Malignant Fate sat by and smiled—
The slippery verge her feet beguiled;
She tumbled headlong in!

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew’d to every watery God
Some speedy aid to send:—
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr’d.
Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard—
A favourite has no friend!

From hence, ye Beauties! undeceived
Know one false step is ne’er retrieved,
And be with caution bold:
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize,
Nor all that glisters, gold!

That was a fun one, wasn't it? Did you catch that not-so-hidden reference to nine lives in the penultimate stanza?

Posted by annika, Jan. 19, 2005 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

January 12, 2005

Carnival Of The Poetries

Shakespeare I ain't (a rebellion against talented writing) by Ginger of Candied Ginger, complete with mysterious picture.

Celebrate the King's birthday with The Thing About Elvis Movies by gcotharn of The End Zone.

Scorebard of Humbug comments on the recent blockbuster baseball moves with I Read the News Today, Oh Boy.

Blog O'DOB lyricizes the CBS fiasco in Joe Lockhart to Barnes to Mapes.

And from a blogger whose every post is like poetry anyway, Tony Pierce, we have "no one home but the stove and thats fixin to go out." Cool.

Anyone know of some others?

Posted by annika, Jan. 12, 2005 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: On The Blogosphere & Poetry

December 29, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here is a poem by a third grader in Tempe Arizona named Michelle, who happens to be a very gifted poet. This poem, written in January 2004 is a fine example.

The Tsunami

I silently aim
towards the land where I'll pour
I send myself to the city
Here comes the crash that I hate
I brush the sand
I cover and say goodbye
to the homes, buildings and cars

I sink back in the ocean
and offer thanks to the earthquake

Michelle introduces her poems by saying: "These are the poems I have been making. I hope you like them. I am in the third grade. My poems don't rhyme."

How sweet. Honey, don't worry about the rhymes. i think they're wonderful. Keep writing, Michelle.

Posted by annika, Dec. 29, 2004 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

December 22, 2004

Poetry Wednesday

The most poetic Bible translation is, i think, the New International Version. I don't know anything about its accuracy, but the NIV sure has beautiful rhythm.

Here's Isaiah, chapter 40. Read it as if it were a poem, listen to the meter, and you'll see what i mean. Feel the beauty and power in these words of prophesy, whose fulfillment we Christians celebrate this-coming Saturday.

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"

"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
"Here is your God!"
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has understood the mind of the Lord ,
or instructed him as his counselor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.

To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare him to?
As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
A man too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

"To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God?"
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Much as i love the poetry of the NIV, i can't read Isaiah 40 and not hear in my head the music of Händel's Messiah Oratorio, set to the King James translation.

O thou that tellest good
tidings to Zion,
get thee up into the high mountain.
O thou that tellest good
tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up
thy voice
with strength;
lift it up,
be not afraid;
say unto the cities of Judah,
behold your God!
behold your God!
behold your God!

for thy light is come,
the glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee.


Posted by annika, Dec. 22, 2004 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

December 01, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Okay this one is for the guys. Since most guys seem to like Bukowski and i haven't posted anything by him yet.

You know his story. Born in Germany, lived in San Pedro, brutally funny poet and story writer, drunk, total mysogynist, the polar opposite of PC.

Long before Dr. Laura came up with the idea for her book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, Charles Bukowski knew the score:

She Said

what are you doing with all those paper
napkins in your car?
we dont have napkins like
how come your car radio is
always turned to some
rock and roll station? do you drive around with
young thing?

dripping tangerine
juice on the floor.
whenever you go into
the kitchen
this towel gets
wet and dirty,
why is that?

when you let my
bathwater run
you never
clean the
tub first.

why don't you
put your toothbrush
in the rack?

you should always
dry your razor

I think
you hate
my cat.

Martha says
you were
sitting with her
and you
had your
pants off.

you shouldn't wear
$100 shoes in
the garden

and you don't keep
of what you
plant out there


you must always
set the cat's bowl back
the same place.

bake fish
in a frying

I never saw
harder on the
brakes of their
than you.

let's go
to a

listen what's
wrong with you?
you act

More: i found this poem on a Bon Jovi fan site. Does anybody know if Bon Jovi set this to music? That would be odd in the extreme.

Posted by annika, Dec. 1, 2004 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

November 24, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. i will probably not be posting this weekend, as i will be at my parents' house, helping to cook, eating, drinking and watching football.


i'll leave you with a very nice holiday poem about the historical Thanksgiving, by 19th Century American poet, Hezekiah Butterworth.

The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor

"Praise ye the Lord!" The psalm to-day
  Still rises on our ears,
Borne from the hills of Boston Bay
  Through five times fifty years,
When Winthrop's fleet from Yarmouth crept
  Out to the open main,
And through the widening waters swept,
  In April sun and rain.
    "Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
      The leader shouted, "pray;"
    And prayer arose from all the ships
      As faded Yarmouth Bay.

They passed the Scilly Isles that day,
  And May-days came, and June,
And thrice upon the ocean lay
  The full orb of the moon.
And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay,
  Ere England sunk from view,
While yet the rippling Solent lay
  In April skies of blue,
    "Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
      Each morn was shouted, "pray;"
    And prayer arose from all the ships,
      As first in Yarmouth Bay;

Blew warm the breeze o'er Western seas,
  Through Maytime morns, and June,
Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals,
  Low 'neath the summer moon;
And as Cape Ann arose to view,
  And Norman's Woe they passed,
The wood-doves came the white mists through,
  And circled round each mast.
    "Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
      Then called the leader, "pray;"
    And prayer arose from all the ships,
      As first in Yarmouth Bay.

Above the sea the hill-tops fair—
  God's towers—began to rise,
And odors rare breathe through the air,
  Like balms of Paradise.
Through burning skies the ospreys flew,
  And near the pine-cooled shores
Danced airy boat and thin canoe,
  To flash of sunlit oars.
    "Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
      The leader shouted, "pray!"
    Then prayer arose, and all the ships
      Sailed into Boston Bay.

The white wings folded, anchors down,
  The sea-worn fleet in line,
Fair rose the hills where Boston town
  Should rise from clouds of pine;
Fair was the harbor, summit-walled,
  And placid lay the sea.
"Praise ye the Lord," the leader called;
  "Praise ye the Lord," spake he.
    "Give thanks to God with fervent lips,
      Give thanks to God to-day,"
    The anthem rose from all the ships,
      Safe moored in Boston Bay.

  "Praise ye the Lord!" Primeval woods
  First heard the ancient song,
And summer hills and solitudes
  The echoes rolled along.
The Red Cross flag of England blew
  Above the fleet that day,
While Shawmut's triple peaks in view
  In amber hazes lay.
    "Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
      Praise ye the Lord to-day,"
    The anthem rose from all the ships
      Safe moored in Boston Bay.

The Arabella leads the song—
  The Mayflower sings below,
That erst the Pilgrims bore along
  The Plymouth reefs of snow.
Oh! never be that psalm forgot
  That rose o'er Boston Bay,
When Winthrop sang, and Endicott,
  And Saltonstall, that day:
    "Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
      Praise ye the Lord to-day;"
    And praise arose from all the ships,
      Like prayers in Yarmouth Bay.

That psalm our fathers sang we sing,
  That psalm of peace and wars,
While o'er our heads unfolds its wing
  The flag of forty stars.
And while the nation finds a tongue
  For nobler gifts to pray,
'T will ever sing the song they sung
  That first Thanksgiving Day:
    "Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
      Praise ye the Lord to-day;"
    So rose the song from all the ships,
      Safe moored in Boston Bay.

Our fathers' prayers have changed to psalms,
  As David's treasures old
Turned, on the Temple's giant arms,
  To lily-work of gold.
Ho! vanished ships from Yarmouth's tide,
  Ho! ships of Boston Bay,
Your prayers have crossed the centuries wide
  To this Thanksgiving Day!
    We pray to God with fervent lips,
      We praise the Lord to-day,
    As prayers arose from Yarmouth ships,
      But psalms from Boston Bay.

i'll be back Sunday. Enjoy your turkey!

Posted by annika, Nov. 24, 2004 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: Poetry

November 18, 2004

Clinton Limericking

In honor of the opening of Clinton's Little Rock library, i'd like to reprint a few stanzas from a dirty limerick by Cameron of Way Off Bass.

. . .

While Bill on the podium dropped trou,
Making sounds like an amorous cow,
A fat intern walked by
Catching Clinton’s glazed eye;
“I’m the piglet, and there goes my sow!”

So the Horn Dog rolled off of the stage
(For his belt did his ankles engage).
As he crawled on the floor,
Up came Al “Mad Dog” Gore,
And the stick up his ass he called Rage.

. . .

Cameron's site is full of political and topical poetry, if you like that kind of stuff. i'd nominate him as the Mark Russell of the blogosphere, except nobody knows or cares who Mark Russell is, since nobody watches PBS anymore.

Posted by annika, Nov. 18, 2004 | link | Comments (20)
Rubric: On The Blogosphere & Poetry

November 17, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here we are in the middle of November. Although in California the weather is indistinguishable from almost any other time of year, i think i'm ready for a seasonal poem. This one is by Robert Frost, 1913.

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
       Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
       She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
       She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
       Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
       The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
       And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
       The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
       And they are better for her praise.

As a Californian, it's difficult for me to fully "get" Robert Frost, because i don't know snow and i don't know seasons. But i've always loved November. It's the most thoughtful month, i think.

Posted by annika, Nov. 17, 2004 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: Poetry

November 10, 2004

Bonus Wednesday Poem (in honor of the USMC and all Veterans)

When you think of the United Sates Marine Corps and the Korean War, one epic battle always comes to mind. Chosin Reservoir. Here's a selection by poet John Kent, which captures the bitter -25° cold experienced by marines during that battle.


How deep the cold takes us down,
into the searing frost of hell;
where mountain snows,
unyielding winds, strip our flesh,
bare our bones.

The trembling of uncertain hearts,
scream out to echoes not impressed,
as swirling mists of laughing death,
reach out their fingers to compress.

How white the withered skin exposed,
turns into black and brittle flesh,
and limbs cast out from conscious thought,
still stagger on the arctic frost.

Immobile does the breath extend
as crystal on the mountain wind,
and eyes now fixed in layers of ice,
see nothing through the dawning light.

This road that leads down to the sea,
twists and turns at every bend,
and Chosin's ice that molds like steel,
rains the fire that seeks our end.

The trucks cry out a dirge refrain,
their brittle gears roll on in pain;
upon their beds, the silent dead,
in grateful and serene repose.

Still the mind resists the call,
to lie and die in final pose,
where blood in stillness warms the soul,
and renders nil the will to rise.

The battle carries through the night,
give witness to the dead betrayed,
when frozen weapons fail to fire,
their metal stressed by winter's might.

Still we fight to reach Hungnam,
in solemn oath and brotherhood,
as every able-bodied man,
will bring our dead and wounded home.

Uphold traditions earned in blood,
break through the hordes that press us in,
depress their numbers to the place,
where waves of dead deny their quest.

And on to the sea...

Update: (i moved this poem to the top. Happy Veterans' Day all!)

Posted by annika, Nov. 10, 2004 | link | Comments (7)
Rubric: History & Poetry

Upon St. Crispin's Day

These days, my thoughts and prayers return often to our men in Fallujah. While the battle rages, i wanted to post a martial poem that might honor the brave marines and soldiers in combat as we speak. In that regard, i can think of no better poet than Shakespeare himself, and the most famous martial speech of all, from Henry V:

Henry V, Act IV, Scene III
(the English camp at Agincourt, before the battle, King Henry speaking)

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Thanks to Iraq veteran, Marine, and blog friend Eric for the text. Do check out his Open Source Shakespeare site, which is a pretty darned awesome reference tool for Bard lovers.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Semper Fidelis!

More: Matt posts Lt. Gen. Jim Amos's birthday message to the 2nd MEF. Smash posts a 1776 recruiting ad for the Continental Marines. And Mike's USMC birthday tribute is full of cool links.

Posted by annika, Nov. 10, 2004 | link | Comments (9)
Rubric: Poetry

November 03, 2004

"W"ednesday Is Poetry Day

From Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), a poem first published in 1793:

Commemoration of Rodney’s Victory

INSTEAD of a Song, boy’s, I’ll give you a Toast;
Here’s to the memory of those on the twelfth that we lost!—
That we lost, did I say?—nay, by Heav’n, that we found;
For their fame it will last while the world goes round.
The next in succession I’ll give you’s THE KING!
Whoe’er would betray him, on high may he swing!
And here’s the grand fabric, our free CONSTITUTION,
As built on the base of our great Revolution!
And longer with Politics not to be cramm’d,
Be ANARCHY curs’d, and TYRANNY damn’d!
And who would to LIBERTY e’er prove disloyal,
May his son be a hangman—and he his first trial!

Gloat on, MacDuff.

Posted by annika, Nov. 3, 2004 | link | Comments (4)
Rubric: Poetry

November 02, 2004

annika's Election Day Message To West Coast Republicans

Especially to Californians.

The polls are still open. Don't believe what you read in Drudge, it has been debunked already. Stick with HughHewitt.com for your news. He's based on the West Coast, and his site is still working.

Go out and vote. The fact that our state will end up being blue is no excuse for not doing everything we can to increase the popular vote, and thereby increase Bush's mandate.

Remember, today is more than just a Presidential election. It's a referendum between toughness and weakness. Toughness must win. And tough people don't mind standing in long lines to do what is right.

A virtual blogosphere smooch goes out to all who've already voted Bush today! (Even the girls, except it's on the cheek.)

It's not Poetry Wednesday, but here's an Election Day Special for y'all. It's by John Greenleaf Whittier, the 19th Century American poet, abolitionist and friend to William Lloyd Garrison.

The Poor Voter on Election Day

To-day, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I.
To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people's hall,
The ballot-box my throne!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong to-day;
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.
To-day let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide;
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand!

Stirring. In all of democracy, there's no act more exhilarating than casting your vote. Believe it!

Posted by annika, Nov. 2, 2004 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry & annikapunditry

October 27, 2004

Today Is Poetry Wednesday

A fun poem about drinking, by British poet John Masefield (1878-1967).

Captain Stratton's Fancy

Oh some are fond of red wine, and some are fond of white,
And some are all for dancing by the pale moonlight;
But rum alone's the tipple, and the heart's delight
Of the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of Spanish wine, and some are fond of French,
And some'll swallow tay and stuff fit only for a wench;
But I'm for right Jamaica till I roll beneath the bench,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are for the lily, and some are for the rose,
But I am for the sugar-cane that in Jamaica grows;
For it's that that makes the bonny drink to warm my copper nose,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of fiddles, and a song well sung,
And some are all for music for to lilt upon the tongue;
But mouths were made for tankards, and for sucking at the bung,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of dancing, and some are fond of dice,
And some are all for red lips, and pretty lasses' eyes;
But a right Jamaica puncheon is a finer prize
To the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some that's good and godly ones they hold that it's a sin
To troll the jolly bowl around, and let the dollars spin;
But I'm for toleration and for drinking at an inn,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are sad and wretched folk that go in silken suits,
And there's a mort of wicked rogues that live in good reputes;
So I'm for drinking honestly, and dying in my boots,
Like an old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Sucking at the bung? Not sure i'm down with that image, lol.

Posted by annika, Oct. 27, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

October 20, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The following poem, by beat poet Gary Snyder, was posted on the inside of a bus i rode this weekend. (The whole "Poetry in Motion" idea is the best thing to happen to public transportation since Wells Fargo invented the stage coach, in my opinion.) i liked it so much, i decided to make it this week's selection:

Why Log Truck Drivers Rise
Earlier Than Students Of Zen

In the high seat, before-dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging on Poorman creek.
Thirty miles of dust.

There is no other life.

This poem was one of those discoveries where i found myself saying "Yesss, that's it! That's how i want to do it."

It's short, it's not cryptic, and it takes me someplace new in the space of a few lines.

i love the way the little details create a scene that's instantly recognizable, though not overly familiar. Did you notice how the visual picture of the the fluttering diesel stack makes you hear the growl of the truck's engine, without the poet even mentioning the sound?

Writing about poetry is like describing wine. It's so hard to find the right words and the end result always seems meaningless, compared to the original.

Posted by annika, Oct. 20, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

October 06, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

How different is this war we are fighting now. Compared to wars of the distant past.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) writes about a once universal irony among soldiers:

      'Had he and I but met
      By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
      Right many a nipperkin!

      'But ranged as infantry,
      And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
      And killed him in his place.

      'I shot him dead because --
      Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
      That's clear enough; although

      'He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
      Off-hand like -- just as I --
Was out of work -- had sold his traps --
      No other reason why.

      'Yes; quaint and curious war is!
      You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
      Or help to half-a-crown.'

In this current war of ours, i doubt you'd find many on our side who'd share Hardy's poignant sentiment.

Posted by annika, Oct. 6, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

September 29, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

No commentary is necessary on this one. It's just a really fine poem, by Alice Corbin Henderson (1881 - 1949). Enjoy:

Muy Vieja Mexicana

I've seen her pass with eyes upon the road --
An old bent woman in a bronze-black shawl,
With skin as dried and wrinkled as a mummy's,
As brown as a cigar-box, and her voice
Like the low vibrant strings of a guitar.
And I have fancied from the girls about
What she was at their age, what they will be
When they are old as she. But now she sits
And smokes away each night till dawn comes round,
Thinking, beside the pinyons' flame, of days
Long past and gone, when she was young -- content
To be no longer young, her epic done:

         For a woman has work and much to do,
         And it's good at the last to know it's through,
         And still have time to sit alone,
         To have some time you can call your own.
         It's good at the last to know your mind
         And travel the paths that you traveled blind,
         To see each turn and even make
         Trips in the byways you did not take --
         But that, `por Dios', is over and done,
         It's pleasanter now in the way we've come;
         It's good to smoke and none to say
         What's to be done on the coming day,
         No mouths to feed or coat to mend,
         And none to call till the last long end.
         Though one have sons and friends of one's own,
         It's better at last to live alone.
         For a man must think of food to buy,
         And a woman's thoughts may be wild and high;
         But when she is young she must curb her pride,
         And her heart is tamed for the child at her side.
         But when she is old her thoughts may go
         Wherever they will, and none to know.
         And night is the time to think and dream,
         And not to get up with the dawn's first gleam;
         Night is the time to laugh or weep,
         And when dawn comes it is time to sleep . . .

When it's all over and there's none to care,
I mean to be like her and take my share
Of comfort when the long day's done,
And smoke away the nights, and see the sun
Far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black,
Through eyes that open inward and look back.

Posted by annika, Sep. 29, 2004 | link | Comments (11)
Rubric: Poetry

September 27, 2004

The Winner, Part 2

way to increase hits
hold a contest then withhold
ha ha the winner

Plus, i have a real tough time with decisions. Each of the haikus had at least one thing i really really liked, and of course i knew how eagerly my visitors awaited the announcement of the winner. The wagering, i imagine, was frenzied.

However, the more i read the nine finalists, the more my aesthetic sense gravitated toward this one, by gcotharn:

Groesbeck, Texas sits
sleepily west of Waco,
until the bar fight.
What i like most about it is that in the first two lines nothing is happening, then in the last line, something happens. i think that's great. It's almost Basho-esque, don't you think?

So, the winner of the Joe Don Baker Haiku contest is gcotharn! My condolences to everyone else. Remember the Olympics? It's not whether you win a medal, just being there makes you a winner, right?

Gcotharn will now proceed to the winners circle, where he will drink a glass of champagne (at his own expense) and e-mail me with instructions on how he wants to claim his fabulous prize, which i have already selected for him.

Posted by annika, Sep. 27, 2004 | link | Comments (8)
Rubric: Poetry

September 24, 2004

The Winner

The winner of the Joe Don Baker Haiku contest is . . .

. . . i don't know yet.

This is a very hard decision for me. Forty-six poems were submitted, and there were some really excellent entries. i found myself literally doubled over with laughter at all of Kevin Kim's. Especially this one:

I once saw Joe Don
tear a wolf in two using
only his nipples
Interestingly, despite the requirement that a true haiku make some reference to a season, only one entry, by Matt Rustler, came close to doing that:
Joe Don, sixty-eight,
Lion in winter. Still not
One to trifle with.
And Victor had me rolling with this one too, which i think is inspired:
Mitchell! A cop with
A gun, a drink, and no friends.
Well, there's that hooker.
Scof's use of the dead/head rhyme, while not what i'd expect in a haiku, is a rather appealing musical reference for this former bay area girl. Plus he introduced me to a new website reference, DeadorAliveInfo.com:
Large is joe don's head
Which makes this all funny since
I thought he was dead
And Shelly does some interesting, experimental, and not entirely successful stuff with vowel alliteration and slant rhyme:
The haiku is done
Where is Annika now that
We need her wit now?
i particularly liked this next one, by Rocket Jones' Ted, because it combined Victor's rat obsession with an oblique reference to a Crispin Glover movie. What actor could be more antithetical to JDB than Crispin Glover? And Ted's haiku is perfectly free of enjambment:
Remake Willard flick
Joe Don Baker in the lead
Victor's fantasy
While it may or may not be technically correct to use enjambment in haiku, i think it should be used sparingly in most poetry. But almost every single haiku in the contest contained some form of enjambment. So, like that unfair professor you hated in college, i used this technicality to eliminate many otherwise worthy poems from contention, based on their degree of reliance on enjambment.

GEBIV posted what i thought was a solid haiku, relatively free of enjambment, but he committed the fatal error of ignoring the 5-7-5 rule:

Great shades of Elvis,
Rocking the gates of Graceland.
Who is this Joe Don Baker?
Still other poems were easily eliminated because they had nothing to do with Joe Don Baker. After winnowing down the list through various secretive and unfair methodologies, i came up with these eight nine finalists:

Mitchell! A cop with
A gun, a drink, and no friends.
Well, there's that hooker.

Remake Willard flick
Joe Don Baker in the lead
Victor's fantasy

Dictionary page
Joe Don Baker defined as
Genius with a sneer

Baker, broad-shouldered:
late-night tv heroics,
stuff of my childhood...

Joe Don walked tall
When Dwayne Jonhson wore diapers.
Johnson is his bitch.

Annika's secret
she's got a Joe Don tattoo
on her inner thigh

Joe Don Baker is
Gary Cooper in High Noon
for the Nascar set.

Groesbeck, Texas sits
sleepily west of Waco,
until the bar fight.

I don't know Joe Don.
Don't really give a rat's ass.
Wrote a haiku, though!

A haiku should reveal some sort of spiritual enlightenment, and i'm going to need some spiritual enlightenment to pick a winner from these eight. i'm now going to go sit under a lotus blossom or whatever and try to make a decision.

Posted by annika, Sep. 24, 2004 | link | Comments (16)
Rubric: Poetry

September 17, 2004

Extra Friday Poetry

Today is William Carlos Williams' birthday (1883 - 1963). i don't think you can make a list of the greatest American poets without including Williams. What i like so much about WCW was that he wasn't neurotic or mentally ill, he didn't commit suicide, he was like a normal guy who wrote great stuff. In fact, he was a practicing physician in Rutherford New Jersey and happily married. Here's a well-known fragment from one of his longer poems, which is so simple, but so good.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

And another, one of my favorites:

The Young Housewife

At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband's house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

i like this one too:

The Term

A rumpled sheet
Of brown paper
About the length

And apparent bulk
Of a man was
Rolling with the

Wind slowly over
And over in
The street as

A car drove down
Upon it and
Crushed it to

The ground. Unlike
A man it rose
Again rolling

With the wind over
And over to be as
It was before.

Williams had this ability i envy so much. He was able to create a full picture of a moment in time with only a few words. It's like reading a Hopper painting.

Posted by annika, Sep. 17, 2004 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

September 15, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here's a good poem for first year law students, like me:


Even though the house is deeply silent
and the room, with no moon,
is perfectly dark,
even though the body is a sack of exhaustion
inert on the bed,

someone inside me will not
get off his tricycle,
will not stop tracing the same tight circle
on the same green threadbare carpet.

It makes no difference whether I lie
staring at the ceiling
or pace the living-room floor,
he keeps on making his furious rounds,
little pedaler in his frenzy,
my own worst enemy, my oldest friend.

What is there to do but close my eyes
and watch him circling the night,
schoolboy in an ill-fitting jacket,
leaning forward, his cap on backwards,
wringing the handlebars,
maintaining a certain speed?

Does anything exist at this hour
in this nest of dark rooms
but the spectacle of him
and the hope that before dawn
I can lift out some curious detail
that will carry me off to sleep--
the watch that encircles his pale wrist,
the expandable band,
the tiny hands that keep pointing this way and that.

By poet laureate of 2001 - 2003, Billy Collins.

Posted by annika, Sep. 15, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

September 09, 2004

Thursday Can Be Poetry Day When i Miss The Last Two Wednesdays

Today's short poem is by the Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova. No stranger to death and horror during her own lifetime (she survived the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin's purges, the siege of Leningrad, the imprisonment of two sons and one husband, and the execution of another husband), the following poem is terribly poignant this week.

Why is this Age Worse?

Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
In a stupor of grief and dread
have we not fingered the foulest wounds
and left them unhealed by our hands?

In the west the falling light still glows,
and the clustered housetops glitter in the sun,
but here Death is already chalking the doors with crosses,
and calling the ravens, and the ravens are flying in.

You can find a short biography of the poet here. And Dustbowl Blues compares alternate translations.

Posted by annika, Sep. 9, 2004 | link | Comments (0)
Rubric: Poetry

August 18, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Here is a lovely, alliterative, difficult, and very spiritual poem by one-time Golden Bear, Archibald Randolph Ammons.

The City Limits

When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
itself but pours its abundance without selection into every
nook and cranny not overhung or hidden; when you consider

that birds' bones make no awful noise against the light but
lie low in the light as in a high testimony; when you consider
the radiance, that it will look into the guiltiest

swervings of the weaving heart and bear itself upon them,
not flinching into disguise or darkening; when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about, the

leaf does not increase itself above the grass, and the dark
work of the deepest cells is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such calmly turns to praise.

i had to read this one a bunch of times before i "got" it. Until i did, the beauty of the rhythm and alliteration kept me going back. Notice the scientific metaphors. Ammons had a chemistry degree from Wake Forest and his interest in science is obvious in this poem. He also studied English Literature at Cal Berkeley as a grad student, although i do not think he earned a degree.

This poem's message is definitely spiritual and contemplative. Whether it's also a religious metaphor is up to the reader. For me it is, but i can just as easily see how it wouldn't be for some.

Here's a short bio of the poet, who died in February, 2001.

Posted by annika, Aug. 18, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

August 11, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

In keeping with today's football related theme, i want to share a pretty cool website i discovered. It's called Football Poets, and it deals with that other football, which Americans call soccer, and which i call kickball.

i may sometimes deride soccer fan, but it's an uncomfortable truth that your average hooligan has a lot in common with your stereotypical Raider fan.

Read the following poem, by a poet named simply, Glenn. Tell me if it doesn't remind you of any beloved black hole dwellers you know.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

He wakes up to the siren of the clock beside his bed,
He rubs his eyes and starts to feel the banging in his head,
It's 8 o'clock on Sunday morn, he's only had five hours,
But he mustn't let his mates down so he summons up his powers.

He drinks a litre of diet coke to ease the dehydration,
Then sets off down to meet his mates at the petrol station,
His lift turns up and they all pile in, squashed and jammed up tight,
The car is filled with smells of beer and curry from last night.

He shouts and swears with all his mates as they change in a cold, damp room,
The boisterousness holds no bounds, it's Sunday in the tomb,
He strides out through the mist that hugs the rutted council pitch,
Up to the centre circle, hand down shorts, attending to the itch.

He tentatively shakes the hand of his foe in black and red,
Then shouts 'tails' as the tarnished coin spins above his head,
He runs, he kicks, he hurts, he spits, his vitriol unchecked,
He courts displeasure of the man, who is in black bedecked.

He leaves the battered field of play, threatening retribution,
Knowing, deep down inside, his worthless contribution,
And afterwards in the bar he's pompous, rude and haughty,
'Cos this is Sunday football and tomorrow he is forty.

He knows his days of mud and blood are nearly at an end,
The paunch that sits upon his belt is now his new best friend,
He'll fill him up with pie and ale until he's fit to burst,
But he will go on drinking to satisfy his thirst.

He staggers off the bus and somehow opens the front door,
He slumps down in the armchair and sleeps three hours or more,
He wakes up to the siren of the ambulance outside
Then cries as he realises, that Sunday football had just died.

Posted by annika, Aug. 11, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry & Sports

August 04, 2004

Poetry Wednesday

A quick one today, 'cause i'm very busy. Today's selection was written by the 19th century American poet Richard Watson Gilder. i thought it was kinda amusing.

A Woman's Thought

I am a woman—therefore I may not
Call to him, cry to him,
Fly to him,
Bid him delay not!

Then when he comes to me, I must sit quiet;
Still as a stone—
All silent and cold.
If my heart riot—
Crush and defy it!
Should I grow bold,
Say one dear thing to him,
All my life fling to him,
Cling to him—
What to atone
Is enough for my sinning!
This were the cost to me,
This were my winning—
That he were lost to me.

Not as a lover
At last if he part from me,
Tearing my heart from me,
Hurt beyond cure—
Calm and demure
Then must I hold me,
In myself fold me,
Lest he discover;
Showing no sign to him
By look of mine to him
What he has been to me—
How my heart turns to him,
Follows him, yearns to him,
Prays him to love me.

Pity me, lean to me,
Thou God above me!

It's obvious that was written by a man. Sheesh.

Posted by annika, Aug. 4, 2004 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

July 28, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

A history lesson with the poetry this week, because i have chosen a sonnet written by a man who might not be a household name, but perhaps should be.

Not generally remembered for his poetry, the author of this week's poem was better known for his passionate devotion to the abolition of slavery. William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was a firebrand and so uncompromising, he even managed to piss off Frederick Douglass. Here's a typical W. L. Garrison quote:

I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.
Thank goodness he was heard, eventually, though at the time not many seemed to want to listen. Georgia's antebellum House of Representatives even offered a bounty of $5000 for Garrison's capture. He was ahead of his time in many ways.
In speaking engagements and through the Liberator and other publications, Garrison advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves. This was an unpopular view during the 1830s, even with northerners who were against slavery. What would become of all the freed slaves? Certainly they could not assimilate into American society, they thought. Garrison believed that they could assimilate. He believed that, in time, all blacks would be equal in every way to the country's white citizens. They, too, were Americans and entitled to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'
Garrison was also an early advocate of women's rights, and non-violent civil disobedience.

In the following sonnet, you get a pretty good picture of the man's intensity and righteousness.

Liberty for All

THEY tell me, Liberty! that in thy name
I may not plead for all the human race;
That some are born to bondage and disgrace,
Some to a heritage of woe and shame,
And some to power supreme, and glorious fame:
With my whole soul I spurn the doctrine base,
And, as an equal brotherhood, embrace
All people, and for all fair freedom claim!
Know this, O man! whate’er thy earthly fate—
God never made a tyrant nor a slave:
Woe, then, to those who dare to desecrate
His glorious image!—for to all He gave
Eternal rights, which none may violate;
And, by a mighty hand, the oppressed He yet shall save!

It's a basic Italian form sonnet, in spotless iambic pentameter, until the final line, which tripped me up a bit. It reads like there's an extra foot in there, and i had to read the line a few times to figure out the meter. All in all, a decent sonnet from a famous non-poet.

Posted by annika, Jul. 28, 2004 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

July 21, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day, Every Wednesday

i must confess, e.e. cummings is not my favorite poet. i don't like visual gimmick poetry, and i don't like indecipherable poetry. In that respect i am not alone. When my favorite poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, was in charge of vetting poets for the Guggenhiem Fellowship, she turned down cummings because she couldn't figure him out. (i wish i had her exact quote; you can find it in the wonderful biography of Millay, called Savage Beauty.)

Thankfully, not all of e.e. cummings' work is hard to read. Take out the weird shit, and what remains is remarkably brilliant. Not surprisingly, i'm especially drawn to his erotic stuff. Sometimes i'm not sure whether he's talking about what i think he's talking about, or whether it's just my own dirty mind. I like that in a poem. Plausible deniability.

An example:

because i love you)last night

clothed in sealace
appeared to me
your mind drifting
with chuckling rubbish
of pearl weed coral and stones;

lifted,and(before my
eyes sinking)inward,fled;softly
your face smile breasts gargled
by death:drowned only

again carefully through deepness to rise
these your wrists
thighs feet hands

          to again utterly disappear;
rushing gently swiftly creeping
through my dreams last
night,all of your
body with its spirit floated
(clothed only in

the tide's acute weaving murmur

Nice, isn't it? Less subtle is this racy example:

my girl's tall with hard long eyes
as she stands, with her long hard hands keeping
silence on her dress, good for sleeping
is her long hard body filled with surprise
like a white shocking wire, when she smiles
a hard long smile it sometimes makes
gaily go clean through me tickling aches,
and the weak noise of her eyes easily files
my impatience to an edge--my girl's tall
and taut, with thin legs just like a vine
that's spent all of its life on a garden-wall,
and is going to die. When we grimly go to bed
with these legs she begins to heave and twine
about me, and to kiss my face and head.

Whew, there's a little bit of excitement for your blog reading day!

But sometimes, e.e. could throw all subtlety out the window, as in this bawdy piece:

the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night

one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross on her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined

they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite

the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that and this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss

they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance

Dang, that's some kick-ass poetry. i'm not crazy about a lot of his stuff, but if he were around today, i'd bet e.e. could take the prize at any poetry slam contest.

Posted by annika, Jul. 21, 2004 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

July 14, 2004

Poetry Wednesday

After missing two and a half days of work, i spend my morning searching the web for this Wednesday's poem. That's how much i love you all.

You may see that i changed the blog's epigram over there on the left. The new epigram is a verse from Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier," which states one of my main purposes for doing this blog, however arrogant or ironic the epigram might sound.

The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is a classic of American literature. If this book was not assigned to you in high school, you should call your principal and demand to know why.

i saw Spoon River performed a few years ago at a little theater in L.A., and i also acted one of the parts for an acting class in college. The idea of the book is that each poem is what one of the dead persons in Spoon River's graveyard might say if they were able to talk. It's heavy on irony, but there's a good amount of wry humor, too.

So, to balance the sentiment of the Bob Marley quote on my sidebar, you might find the theme of the following poem from Spoon River useful.

Oaks Tutt

My mother was for woman’s rights
And my father was the rich miller at London Mills.
I dreamed of the wrongs of the world and wanted to right them.
When my father died, I set out to see peoples and countries
In order to learn how to reform the world.
I traveled through many lands.
I saw the ruins of Rome,
And the ruins of Athens,
And the ruins of Thebes.
And I sat by moonlight amid the necropolis of Memphis.
There I was caught up by wings of flame,
And a voice from heaven said to me:
“Injustice, Untruth destroyed them. Go forth!
Preach Justice! Preach Truth!”
And I hastened back to Spoon River
To say farewell to my mother before beginning my work.
They all saw a strange light in my eye.
And by and by, when I talked, they discovered
What had come in my mind.
Then Jonathan Swift Somers challenged me to debate
The subject, (I taking the negative):
“Pontius Pilate, the Greatest Philosopher of the World.”
And he won the debate by saying at last,
“Before you reform the world, Mr. Tutt,
Please answer the question of Pontius Pilate:
‘What is Truth?’”

Posted by annika, Jul. 14, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

July 07, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Inspired by Ginger and Candace's recent post about their fabulous meeting in the city of New York, i decided to select a poem from my favorite New York poet, Frank O'Hara.

The following is one of O'Hara's best known poems, and it deserves to be. Reading it, one can imagine what it must have been like to be young and hip in the city back in 1959.

"Lady," by the way, is the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, who died on July 17, 1959 at New York's Metropolitan Hospital.

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
                                        I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or
Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Posted by annika, Jul. 7, 2004 | link | Comments (2)
Rubric: Poetry

July 01, 2004

Poetry Wednesday Thursday

Lazy schlub that i am, i forgot to do a Poetry Wednesday post. When i realized this too late, i toyed with the idea of just letting it go and hoping my two or three readers didn't notice.

Then this morning, surfing, i came across a lovely poem from 1911 that i just had to share with y'all. So here it is. The poet is Constantine P. Cavafy, an Egyptian born poet who wrote in Greek.


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Link thanks to All Things Jen(nifer) for finding this poem in Thomas Cahill's book, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter.

Posted by annika, Jul. 1, 2004 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

June 23, 2004

Poetry Wednesday, A Haiku

We don't have cicadas out here in California. At least i've never seen one. But i'm sympathetic to all those people back east who have had to deal with the ugly critters this year.

If you're suffering through the infestation, you may look to the words of the great haiku poet Basho for encouragement.

In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.

Hang in there.

Update: Victor beat me to it (via Zenchick). He's also got some wild and grotesque pictures here, here and here.

Posted by annika, Jun. 23, 2004 | link | Comments (6)
Rubric: Poetry

June 16, 2004

Poetry Wednesday

i have been negligent for not posting any poem by my favorite poet on one of these Poetry Wednesdays. Today i will correct that. The following is by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

God's World

O WORLD, I cannot hold thee close enough!
    Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
    Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
    But never knew I this;
    Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Posted by annika, Jun. 16, 2004 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

June 09, 2004

Today Is Lyrical Wednesday

In lieu of a poem, and in honor of Cole Porter's birthday today, i present to you the lyrics to my favorite Cole Porter song. You may not have heard these lyrics because the song is more famous as an instrumental. It was band leader Artie Shaw's theme song, i believe.

Begin the Beguine

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendor,
It brings back a memory ever green.

I’m with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.

To live it again is past all endeavor,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.

What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;

So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.

Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
'Darling, I love you!'
And we suddenly know, what heaven we’re in,
When they begin the beguine

i think it's Porter's most romantic tune.

Happy one hundred and thirteenth birthday Cole Porter!

Posted by annika, Jun. 9, 2004 | link | Comments (5)
Rubric: Poetry

May 19, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Today's selection is by the great poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes.

Theme for English B

The instructor said,

     Go home and write
     a page tonight.
     And let that page come out of you--
     Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me--who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white--
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me--
although you're older--and white--
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

i found this at White Pebble.

Posted by annika, May. 19, 2004 | link | Comments (0)
Rubric: Poetry

May 12, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The ghazal is a thousand year old poetic form, which can follow very strict structural and metric rules. It originated in Persia, but was also used by Hindu and other poets, up to today. The poems usually involve a series of couplets and often explore erotic or sensual themes.

i know very little about the form, except that the great Spanish poet/playwright, Federico García Lorca included a number of poems in his 1934 collection De Divan Del Tamarit, which he labeled Gacelas. Many of the poems don't appear to be true ghazals, since they don't strictly follow a couplet format, although some do.

One poem from De Divan Del Tamarit seems especially apropriate to my own dark mood, given the fearful state of our world as i'm looking at it today. García Lorca called it Gacela de la Muerte Oscura. The following translation is by Catherine Brown:*

Ghazal of Dark Death

I want to sleep the sleep of apples,
far away from the uproar of cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who wanted to cut his heart out on the sea.

I don't want to hear that the dead lose no blood,
that the decomposed mouth is still begging for water.
I don't want to find out about the grass-given martyrdoms,
or the snake-mouthed moon that works before dawn.

I want to sleep just a moment,
a moment, a minute, a century.
But let it be known that I have not died:
that there is a stable of gold in my lips,
that I am the West Wind's little friend,
that I am the enormous shadow of my tears.

Wrap me at dawn in a veil,
for she will hurl fistfuls of ants;
sprinkle my shoes with hard water
so her scorpion's sting will slide off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of apples
and learn a lament that will cleanse me of earth;
because I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart out on the sea.

* from Selected Verse: A Bilingual Edition, edited by Christopher Maurer.

Posted by annika, May. 12, 2004 | link | Comments (0)
Rubric: Poetry

April 28, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Wednesday being poetry day here, i think the perfectly appropriate selection in light of my current dillema is this one, the most famous poem about dillemas:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The beauty of this poem, which might be Frost's best known, is the deliberate lack of resolution in the final line. Just like with life.

Posted by annika, Apr. 28, 2004 | link | Comments (3)
Rubric: Poetry

April 21, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

i'm going to try to make Wednesday poetry day here on annika's journal. A great way to start is with my favorite male poet, William Carlos Williams, and a poem relevant to today:

Peace on Earth

The archer is wake!
The Swan is flying!
Gold against blue
An Arrow is lying.
There is hunting in heaven—
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Bears are abroad!
The Eagle is screaming!
Gold against blue
Their eyes are gleaming!
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Sisters lie
With their arms intertwining;
Gold against blue
Their hair is shining!
The Serpent writhes!
Orion is listening!

Gold against blue
His sword is glistening!
There is hunting in heaven—
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

Take what you want from that poem; that's what poetry is all about. To me it's a wish that you and i will continue to sleep safe while the battle between good and evil goes on around us, whether we're aware of it or not.

Posted by annika, Apr. 21, 2004 | link | Comments (1)
Rubric: Poetry

April 09, 2004

Poem i Found

i'm not too crazy about gimmicky poems that look funky on the page. i guess it's the lingering effects of trying to decipher too much e.e. cummings in school. But here's one i found via Ivy is here, which i really like a lot.

Click here to read Sunday Morning from the blog Watermark.

Posted by annika, Apr. 9, 2004 | link | Comments (6)
Rubric: Poetry

April 07, 2004

Happy Birthday William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was born on this day in 1770. In honor of his birthday, here's one of my favorites:


I wander'd lonely as a cloud
   That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Pretty, isn't it?

Posted by annika, Apr. 7, 2004 | link | Comments (9)
Rubric: Poetry

January 16, 2004

Only A Test Post In A Gilded Cage

A Reflection Upon the Modern Style

Poetry that doesn't rhyme
Is laziness, a waste of time,
A blight upon the landscape that
Would be outlawed if I were King.

And poems that do not scan are worse;
How can they be described as verse?
They have no soul; their tone is flat;
They do not make one cry or sing.

This modern stuff I cannot stand.
It must be banished from the land,
While I lay out the welcome mat
For poetry with rhymes that ring

Down through these hallowed, ancient halls
And far on out beyond these walls,
To man and woman, dog and cat...
I'm out of words that end in ing.

Posted by annika, Jan. 16, 2004 | link | Comments (21)
Rubric: Poetry