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A poem for a day

Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:13 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Starting a new thing-posting a poem a day. Feel free to join in! Be sure to include the author.
Today's' poem:
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:53 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Jenny Kiss’d Me
Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:06 pm UTC
by Angua
'Back to Africa'
By Louise Bennet

Back to Africa, Miss Mattie?
You no know wha you dah seh?
You haf fe come from somewhe fus
Before you go back deh!

Me know say dat you great great great
Granma was African,
But Mattie, doan you great great great
Granpa was Englishman?

Den you great granmader fader
By you fader side was Jew?
An you granpa by you mader side
Was Frenchie parlez-vous?

But de balance a you family,
You whole generation,
Oonoo all barn dung a Bun Grung-
Oonoo all is Jamaican!

Den is weh you gwine, Miss Mattie?
Oh, you view de countenance,
An between you an de Africans
Is great resemblance!

Ascorden to dat, all dem blue-yeye
White American
Who-fa great granpa was Englishman
Mus go back a Englan!

What a debil of a bump-an-bore,
Rig-jig an palam-pam
Ef de whole worl start fe go back
Whe dem great granpa come from!

Ef a hard time you dah run from
Tek you chance! But Mattie, do
Sure a whe you come from so you got
Somewhe fe come back to!

Go a foreign, seek you fortune,
But no tell nobody say
You dah go fe seek you homelan,
For a right deh so you deh!

I always enjoyed her poetry at school. I think it was the first introduction (in secondary school) to 'real' poetry (obviously there are songs in dialect that you hear) that was in dialect - something that was validated by wider society I guess! Dialect was discouraged in school.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:05 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

~Wallace Stevens, 1954~

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:12 am UTC
by rat4000
I am curious as to the legality of this. I know you can't post the full text of a copyrighted book, legally; can you post a poem?

Avoiding the question, here is one I found online recently: ... 20590352/0

Edited some two months later to show artist and title: Richard Wilbur, Five Women Bathing in Moonlight

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:16 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
I believe it falls under the fair use rules. Properly attributed, not making money. Also, mostly very dead poets.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:13 am UTC
by Envelope Generator
Where is the Black Beast?
Crow, like an owl, swivelled his head.
Where is the Black Beast?
Crow hid in its bed to ambush it.
Where is the Black Beast?
Crow sat in its chair, telling loud lies against the Black Beast.

Where is it?
Crow shouted after midnight, pounding the wall with a last,
Where is the Black Beast?
Crow split his enemy’s skull to the pineal gland.
Where is the Black Beast?

Crow crucified a frog under a microscope, he peered into the
brain of a dogfish.
Where is the Black Beast?

Crow roasted the earth to a clinker, he charged into space -
Where is the Black Beast?

The silences of space decamped, space flitted in every direction - Where is the Black Beast?

Crow flailed immensely through the vacuum, he screeched after the disappearing stars -Where is it?
Where is the Black Beast?

("The Black Beast", from The Life and Songs of Crow by Ted Hughes)

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:25 am UTC
by PAstrychef
she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good


was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
to a:dead.


-e.e. cummings

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:09 am UTC
by PAstrychef
Marvin Bell
Drawn by stones, by earth, by things that have been in the fire
I can tell you about this because I have held in my hand
the little potter’s sponge called an “elephant ear.
Naturally, it’s only a tiny version of an ear,
but it’s the thing you want to pick up out of the toolbox
when you wander into the deserted ceramics shop
down the street from the cave where the fortune-teller works.
Drawn by stones, by earth, by things that have been in the fire.
The elephant ear listens to the side of the vase
as it is pulled upwards from a dome of muddy clay.
The ear listens to outside wall of the pot
and the hand listens to the inside wall of the pot,
and between them a city rises out of dirt and water.
Inside this city live the remains of animals,
animals who prepare for two hundred years to be clay.
Rodents make clay, and men wearing spectacles make clay,
though the papers they were singing go up in flames
and nothing more is known of these long documents
except by those angels who divine in our ashes.
Kings and queens of the jungle make clay
and royalty and politicians make clay although
their innocence stays with their clothes until unraveled.
There is a lost soldier in every ceramic bowl.
The face on the dinner plate breaks when the dish does
and lies for centuries unassembled in the soil.
These things that have the right substance to begin with,
put into the fire at temperatures that melt glass,
keep their fingerprints forever, it is said,
like inky sponges that walk away in the deep water.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:59 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Sonnet 130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Wm. Shakespeare

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:35 pm UTC
by PAstrychef

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!

Shel Silverstein, 1974

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:50 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Atomic Prayer, Cornelius Eady

If the bomb drops
And I’m riding the
Staten Island Ferry,
Give me time to spit in the water.
If the bomb drops
And I’m on top
Of the Empire State Building,
Give me time
To toss a penny
Off the observation deck.
If the bomb drops
And I’m walking down Fifth Avenue
Grant me a loose brick,
A fresh plate-glass window,
Grant us a moment
When there’ll be no need
To play it safe.
Give to us the pleasure
Of misdemeanors.
Let each of us do
What we’ve always
Dreams of,
But were too polite
To act out.
Let us extract
Our brief revenge,
Spilling and ripping things
We’ve been taught
Not to handle.
If we’re to die before we sleep,
Grant us a moment to uncover
The secrets behind the door marked Restricted,
Authorize us to touch what was always held
just beyond our reach.
Give us a taste
Of the stolen world.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:37 pm UTC
by PAstrychef

HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Carl Sandburg

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:18 am UTC
by Envelope Generator
Basho, coming to the city of Nagoya
Is asked to a snow party.
There is a tinkling of china
And tea into china;
There are introductions.

Then everyone crowds to the window
To watch the falling snow.
Snow is falling on Nagoya
And farther south
On the tiles of Kyoto.

Eastward, beyond Irago
It is falling like leaves on a cold sea.
Elsewhere they are burning
Witches and heretics
In the boiling squares.
Thousands have died since dawn
In the service of barbarous kings;

But there is silence
In the houses of Nagoya
And the hills of Ise.

"The Snow Party", by Derek Mahon

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:37 am UTC
by PAstrychef
A section of a poem by Rumi, in translation.

i've come again
like a new year
to crash the gate
of this old prison

i've come again
to break the teeth and claws
of this man-eating
monster we call life

i've come again
to puncture the
glory of the cosmos
who mercilessly
destroys humans

i am the falcon
hunting down the birds
of black omen
before their flights

i gave my word
at the outset to
give my life
with no qualms
i pray to the Lord
to break my back
before i break my word

how do you dare to
let someone like me
intoxicated with love
enter your house

you must know better
if i enter
i'll break all this and
destroy all that

if the sheriff arrives
i'll throw the wine
in his face
if your gatekeeper
pulls my hand
i'll break his arm

if the heavens don't go round
to my heart's desire
i'll crush its wheels and
pull out its roots

you have set up
a colorful table
calling it life and
asked me to your feast
but punish me if
i enjoy myself

what tyranny is this

you mustn't be afraid of death
you're a deathless soul
you can't be kept in a dark grave
you're filled with God's glow

be happy with your beloved
you can't find any better
the world will shimmer
because of the diamond you hold

when your heart is immersed
in this blissful love
you can easily endure
any bitter face around

in the absence of malice
there is nothing but
happiness and good times
don't dwell in sorrow my friend

Translated by Nader Khalili "Rumi, Fountain of Fire"

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:24 am UTC
by Envelope Generator
My idlest dreams go farthest,
South to a land of brilliant days in fall,
A thousand miles of hills and rivers, cold-colored sunsets,
Flowering reeds that hid the boats of solitary men,
And flutes played overhead in moonlit rooms.

My idlest dreams go farthest,
South to a land of fragrant springs,
And rivers green beneath our boat-borne flutes and strings,
Back to a town of floating catkins mixed with golden dust
And crowds that fought to see the flowers.

Li Yu, tr. Sam Houston Brock

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:51 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Approach of Winter
William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963
The half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine,—
like no leaf that ever was—
edge the bare garden.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:15 am UTC
by PAstrychef
It’s Like This
for Peter Parrish

Each morning the man rises from bed because the invisible
cord leading from his neck to someplace in the dark,
the cord that makes him always dissatisfied,
has been wound tighter and tighter until he wakes.

He greets his family, looking for himself in their eyes,
but instead he sees shorter or taller men, men with
different degrees of anger or love, the kind of men
that people who hardly know him often mistake
for him, leaving a movie or running to catch a bus.

He has a job that he goes to. It could be at a bank
or a library or turning a piece of flat land
into a ditch. All day something that refuses to
show itself hovers at the corner of his eye,
like a name he is trying to remember, like
expecting a touch on the shoulder, as if someone
were about to embrace him, a woman in a blue dress
whom he has never met, would never meet again.
And it seems the purpose of each day’s labor
is simply to bring this mystery to focus. He can
almost describe it, as if it were a figure at the edge
of a burning field with smoke swirling around it
like white curtains shot full of wind and light.

When he returns home, he studies the eyes of his family to see
what person he should be that evening. He wants to say:
All day I have been listening, all day I have felt
I stood on the brink of something amazing.
But he says nothing, and his family walks around him
as if he were a stick leaning against a wall.

Late in the evening the cord around his neck draws him to bed.
He is consoled by the coolness of sheets, pressure
of blankets. He turns to the wall, and as water
drains from a sink so his daily mind slips from him.
Then sleep rises before him like a woman in a blue dress,
and darkness puts its arms around him, embracing him.
Be true to me, it says, each night you belong to me more,
until at last I lift you up and wrap you within me.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:50 am UTC
by PAstrychef
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:45 pm UTC
by Kewangji
Don't know when this was written but:



But in 2500 B.C. Harappa,
who cast in bronze a servant girl?

No one keeps records
of soldiers and slaves.

The sculptor knew this,
polishing the ache

Off her fingers stiff
from washing the walls

and scrubbing the floors,
from stirring the meat

and the crushed asafoetida
in the bitter gourd.

But I’m grateful she smiled
at the sculptor,

as she smiles at me
in bronze,

a child who had to play woman
to her lord

when the warm June rains
came to Harappa.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:17 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
A long one, but worth it:

Wild Grapes

What tree may not the fig be gathered from?
The grape may not be gathered from the birch?
It's all you know the grape, or know the birch.
As a girl gathered from the birch myself
Equally with my weight in grapes, one autumn,
I ought to know what tree the grape is fruit of.
I was born, I suppose, like anyone,
And grew to be a little boyish girl
My brother could not always leave at home.
But that beginning was wiped out in fear
The day I swung suspended with the grapes,
And was come after like Eurydice
And brought down safely from the upper regions;
And the life I live now's an extra life
I can waste as I please on whom I please.
So if you see me celebrate two birthdays,
And give myself out of two different ages,
One of them five years younger than I look—
One day my brother led me to a glade
Where a white birch he knew of stood alone,
Wearing a thin head-dress of pointed leaves,
And heavy on her heavy hair behind,
Against her neck, an ornament of grapes.
Grapes, I knew grapes from having seen them last year.
One bunch of them, and there began to be
Bunches all round me growing in white birches,
The way they grew round Leif the Lucky's German;
Mostly as much beyond my lifted hands, though,
As the moon used to seem when I was younger,
And only freely to be had for climbing.
My brother did the climbing; and at first
Threw me down grapes to miss and scatter
And have to hunt for in sweet fern and hardhack;
Which gave him some time to himself to eat,
But not so much, perhaps, as a boy needed.
So then, to make me wholly self-supporting,
He climbed still higher and bent the tree to earth
And put it in my hands to pick my own grapes.
"Here, take a tree-top, I'll get down another.
Hold on with all your might when I let go."
I said I had the tree. It wasn't true.
The opposite was true. The tree had me.
The minute it was left with me alone
It caught me up as if I were the fish
And it the fishpole. So I was translated
To loud cries from my brother of "Let go!
Don't you know anything, you girl? Let go!"
But I, with something of the baby grip
Acquired ancestrally in just such trees
When wilder mothers than our wildest now
Hung babies out on branches by the hands
To dry or wash or tan, I don't know which,
(You'll have to ask an evolutionist)—
I held on uncomplainingly for life.
My brother tried to make me laugh to help me.
"What are you doing up there in those grapes?
Don't be afraid. A few of them won't hurt you.
I mean, they won't pick you if you don't them."
Much danger of my picking anything!
By that time I was pretty well reduced
To a philosophy of hang-and-let-hang.
"Now you know how it feels," my brother said,
"To be a bunch of fox-grapes, as they call them,
That when it thinks it has escaped the fox
By growing where it shouldn't—on a birch,
Where a fox wouldn't think to look for it—
And if he looked and found it, couldn't reach it—
Just then come you and I to gather it.
Only you have the advantage of the grapes
In one way: you have one more stem to cling by,
And promise more resistance to the picker."
One by one I lost off my hat and shoes,
And still I clung. I let my head fall back,
And shut my eyes against the sun, my ears
Against my brother's nonsense; "Drop," he said,
"I'll catch you in my arms. It isn't far."
(Stated in lengths of him it might not be.)
"Drop or I'll shake the tree and shake you down."
Grim silence on my part as I sank lower,
My small wrists stretching till they showed the banjo strings.
"Why, if she isn't serious about it!
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do.
I'll bend the tree down and let you down by it."
I don't know much about the letting down;
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet
And the world came revolving back to me,
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers,
Before I straightened them and brushed the bark off.
My brother said: "Don't you weigh anything?
Try to weigh something next time, so you won't
Be run off with by birch trees into space."
It wasn't my not weighing anything
So much as my not knowing anything—
My brother had been nearer right before.
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart—nor need,
That I can see. The mind—is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind—
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:37 pm UTC
by rat4000
PAstrychef wrote:Be sure to include the author.
"Wild Grapes" is Robert Frost's.

And just so there are few posts here without poems, enjoy one of Chesterton's I got off Wikisource:

The Outlaw

Priest, is any song-bird stricken?
Is one leaf less on the tree?
Is this wine less red and royal
That the hangman waits for me?

He upon your cross that hangeth,
It is writ of priestly pen,
On the night they built his gibbet,
Drank red wine among his men.

Quaff, like a brave man, as he did,
Wine and death as heaven pours--
This is my fate: O ye rulers,
O ye pontiffs, what is yours?

To wait trembling, lest yon loathly
Gallows-shape whereon I die,
In strange temples yet unbuilded,
Blaze upon an altar high.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:45 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Thanks, I thought his name was just under the title.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 1:22 am UTC
by rat4000
Dorothy Parker's
Prayer for a New Mother

The things she knew, let her forget again --
The voices in the sky, the fear, the cold,
The gaping shepherds, and the queer old men
Piling their clumsy gifts of foreign gold.

Let her have laughter with her little one;
Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing;
Grant her the right to whisper to her son
The foolish names one dare not call a king.

Keep from her dreams the rumble of a crowd,
The smell of rough-cut wood, the trail of red,
The thick and chilly whiteness of the shroud
That wraps the strange new body of the dead.

Ah, let her go, kind Lord, where mothers go
And boast his pretty words and ways, and plan
The proud and happy years that they shall know
Together, when her son is grown a man.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:25 pm UTC
by Envelope Generator
A hundred mountains and no bird,
A thousand paths without a footprint;
A little boat, a bamboo cloak,
An old man fishing in the cold river-snow.

Liu Zongyuan (773-819), tr. Witter Bynner

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:02 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
A Clear Midnight
Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:51 pm UTC
by Kewangji
Here's a presumably very loose translation of a poem by Qalonymos ben Qalonymos. The translator is Richard Chess. It's about gender dysphoria.

Our Father in Heaven!
You who did miracles to our fathers
by fire and water; you who turned
the furnace in Ur of the Chaldees
cold to stop it from burning Abraham;
you who turned Dinah in her mother's womb into a girl;
you who turned the rod of Moses into a serpent
in front of tens of thousands;
you who turned Moses' pure arm into a leper's white arm;
you who turned the Red Sea into land,
and the sea floor into solid and dried-up earth;
you who turned rock into lake, cliff into fountain—
if only you would turn me
from male to female! If only
I were worthy of this grace of yours,
I could have long been the lady
of flower and fern, cup and bowl.
I could have been grace instead of hulk,
necklace instead of knot at the neck.
I could have listened far down the dark
corridor of a dictator's heart
and heard the faint beating of a wing
in the secret room there.
I could have been surprise instead of routine
aboard a commuter train.
The age of miracles has passed. Heaven
is an armed compound at the end
of a private road through woods
where trees have ears, stones eyes. Human
ingenuity turns skin into soap.
My whole being could have flown into the grain
of the wood floor and returned
with advice on how to bear
the weight of angry and sad men.
I could have been a tall secret
in the company of federal agents.
The hours are empty cabinets
because I have not been blown
into the shape of goblet or vase.
I could have been glamorous
instead of brawny, boastful, dangerous, dumb.
I could have been pool rather than falls,
moss rather than bark, but I think I would not
have favored being the target
a swift, feathered arrow seeks.
Because I am commanded to,
every morning after I've soaped and rinsed
my defect, I meekly say, Blessed art Thou
who did not make me a woman.
I could have been tranquil instead of rattle and roar.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:56 am UTC
by PAstrychef
An Arab Shepherd Is Searching For His Goat On Mount Zion
Written by: Yehuda Amichai

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
And on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy.

An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
Both in their temporary failure.

Our two voices met above
The Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.

Neither of us wants the boy or the goat
To get caught in the wheels
Of the "Had Gadya" machine.

Afterward we found them among the bushes,
And our voices came back inside us
Laughing and crying.

Searching for a goat or for a child has always been
The beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:55 am UTC
by PAstrychef
To The Reader
Denise Levertov

As you read, a white bear leisurely
pees, dyeing the snow

and as you read, many gods
lie among lianas: eyes of obsidian
are watching the generations of leaves,

and as you read
the sea is turning its dark pages,
its dark pages.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:31 am UTC
by PAstrychef
Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:17 pm UTC
by rat4000

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:27 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
I'm only sad that the name was used in Silence of the Lambs because now that's what people think of.
e e cummings

Buffalo Bill's


who used to

ride a watersmooth-silver


and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat


he was a handsome man

and what i want to know is

how do you like your blueeyed boy

Mister Death

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:17 pm UTC
by rat4000
I read of the real Buffalo Bill in a translated yarn about Indians originally written in East Germany, long before I read anything by Thomas Harris. And that cummings poem is a marvel.

Charles Bukowski,
life of the king

I awaken at 11:30 a.m.
get into my chinos and a clean green shirt
open a Miller's,
and nothing in the mailbox but the
Berkeley Tribe
which I don't subscribe to,
and on KUSC there is organ music
something by Bach
and I leave the door open
stand on the porch
walk out front
hot damn
that air is good
and the sun like golden butter on my
body. no racetrack today, nothing but this
beastly and magic
leisure, rolled cigarette dangling
I scratch my belly in the sun
as Paul Hindemith
rides by on a bicycle,
and down the street a lady in a
very red dress
bends down into a laundry basket
hangs a sheet on a line,
bends again, rises, in all that red,
that red like snake skin
clinging moving flashing
hot damn
I keep looking, and
she sees me
pauses bent over basket
clothespin in mouth
she rises with a pair of pink
smiles around the clothespin
waves to me.
what's next? rape in the streets?
I wave back,
go in,
sit down at the machine
by the window, and now it's someone's
violin concerto in D,
and a pretty black girl in very tight pants
walking a hound,
they stop outside my window,
look in;
she has on dark shades
and her mouth opens a little, then she and the dog
move on.
someone might have bombed cities for this or
sold apples in the
but whoever is responsible, today I wish to
thank him
all the

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:19 am UTC
by rat4000
Sylvia Plath's
Dirge for a Joker

Always in the middle of a kiss
Came the profane stimulus to cough;
Always from the pulpit during service
Leaned the devil prompting you to laugh.

Behind mock-ceremony of your grief
Lurked the burlesque instinct of the ham;
You never altered your amused belief
That life was a mere monumental sham.

From the comic accident of birth
To the final grotesque joke of death
Your malady of sacrilegious mirth
Spread gay contagion with each clever breath.

Now you must play the straight man for a term
And tolerate the humor of the worm.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:48 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Funeral Blues

W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:10 pm UTC
by rat4000
Permit me some prose. There will be a poem by Yeats at the end of this post, but I want first to say why it will be this poem. And the reason has something to do with the two poems by Yeats that have been posted already, so it seems reasonable to express it. "The Second Coming" and "Sailing to Byzantium", are not the poems that I think should represent that poet here, or in an anthology, or anywhere; at any rate, they should not be the only ones to represent him. They are not bad poems; in fact, both are wonderful. But they are the sort of thing that recall a stereotypically bad English class, even if one has not read them in English class -- they are the sort of thing that one expects to read in one of those boring, stuffy rooms, with an old man in a suit droning on and on incomprehensibly. They use complicated imagery, and worse than that, idiosyncratic imagery. (Anyone who knows what gyres signify for Yeats will know them almost by heart.) And worse still, they are concerned with the world at large; the concepts are general, and while the execution is brilliant this means that understanding comes with difficulty, and emotion perhaps not at all.

It is true that this is Yeats -- "complicated idiosyncratic imagery" might well be the title of a book of selected poems by him -- but Yeats is more than this, and the rest of him is just as good and often more accessible. He is rarely as general as he is here, being normally anchored in his time and place ("Had de Valera eaten Parnell's heart", etc.) and very often concerned with private emotions, ones tied to someone's specific situation, or at least some situation more specific than that of an old man dreaming of far-off places. So much for why I think that these should not be the only poems to represent him; on to why I want other poems to represent him: I am young. These two poems are written by an old man for old people, and obviously so. (Passively despairing of the world has always been the domain of the old.) I do not want to read of a dream of far-off places, or of the irreversible turn of the world to the worse; I want, if not hope and activity, then personal despair and sadness, and I believe myself typical for my age. So have, if you are like me, one other famous (but less famous) poem, which is the one that got me to read more Yeats, long after I'd read the two already posted; one, indeed, that started the process which ended with my understanding them better:

An Irish Airman foresees his death

I know that I shall meet my fate,
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:59 am UTC
by PAstrychef

Barbara Drake

When father's airplane stopped
and we were mid‑air,
the little yellow cub continued riding
along on chilly emptiness
like a boat in a stream.
Not a heavy thing at all,
it seemed a toy plane
of paper and balsa wood
tossed up with no rider
but the painted outline
of a soldier, his helmet
and goggles classic, his head
bent to the controls.

Father coughed and grinned
to a grimace, and I said, "Anything wrong?"
"Damn thing went off," he answered.

The bay looked long and blue and beautiful
against the sand spit;
the air was also blue, and chilly.
"Ice," said father,
"in the carburetor."
And still we floated
in that nothingness,
with nothing to fear,
the nothing under us.

And father fiddled with the starter
as the ailerons rowed space
and then before we'd really lost
much altitude, maybe none, maybe
we even gained some,
the engine started and father smiled
and said, "I could land
this plane anywhere, engine or not:
a jetty, a dune, a country
highway. I could have taken it down."

The little plane coasted
along on its rutrutrut of an engine
till we landed where mother sat
in the car at the railing,
and, "What were you doing up there?"
she asked us. "It looked funny."
We said,

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 4:24 pm UTC
by Kewangji
rat4000 wrote:Permit me some prose.

That was some lovely prose (and not a bad poem), thank you.

Here's one by Bob Perelman, meant to accompany a painting by Francie Shaw. From a collaboration called Playing Bodies.


Take that, That
And try some of this, This
Be yourself, Be
And don’t tread on me, Don’t

Fuck you, You
And I love it when you call me that, Love
Pleasure always goes twice around the block, Please
So say it again, Sam

One more time, Time
And another thing, Thing
Don’t stop now, Now
Or else I’m gone, I

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:40 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
It being that time of year:

The Germ
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

Ogden Nash

Re: A poem for a day

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:39 am UTC
by rat4000
John M. Ford wrote (second post) a spontaneous sonnet eleven years ago. Since it's much more powerful when one understands what made him pick up the pen, I'll leave this one as a link.