By Louise Gluck
By Louise Gluck
I hated John Ashbery's poetry because I never understood it. Then one time I heard him READ a poem and OH, I LOVED John Ashbery.
|by John Ashbery|
What the bad news was became apparent too late for us to do anything good about it. I was offered no urgent dreaming, didn't need a name or anything. Everything was taken care of. In the medium-size city of my awareness voles are building colossi. The blue room is over there. He put out no feelers. The day was all as one to him. Some days he never leaves his room and those are the best days, by far. There were morose gardens farther down the slope, anthills that looked like they belonged there. The sausages were undercooked, the wine too cold, the bread molten. Who said to bring sweaters? The climate's not that dependable. The Atlantic crawled slowly to the left pinning a message on the unbound golden hair of sleeping maidens, a ruse for next time, where fire and water are rampant in the streets, the gate closed—no visitors today or any evident heartbeat. I got rid of the book of fairy tales, pawned my old car, bought a ticket to the funhouse, found myself back here at six o'clock, pondering "possible side effects." There was no harm in loving then, no certain good either. But love was loving servants or bosses. No straight road issuing from it. Leaves around the door are penciled losses. Twenty years to fix it. Asters bloom one way or another.
The Woman In The Ordinary
by Marge Piercy
The woman in the ordinary pudgy downcast girl
is crouching with eyes and muscles clenched.
Round and pebble smooth she effaces herself
under ripples of conversation and debate.
The woman in the block of ivory soap
has massive thighs that neigh,
great breasts that blare and strong arms that trumpet.
The woman of the golden fleece
laughs uproariously from the belly
inside the girl who imitates
a Christmas card virgin with glued hands,
who fishes for herself in other's eyes,
who stoops and creeps to make herself smaller.
In her bottled up is a woman peppery as curry,
a yam of a woman of butter and brass,
compounded of acid and sweet like a pineapple,
like a handgrenade set to explode,
like goldenrod ready to bloom.
by Margaret Atwood
This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.
In your extended absence, you permit me use of earth, anticipating some return on investment. I must report failure in my assignment, principally regarding the tomato plants. I think I should not be encouraged to grow tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold the heavy rains, the cold nights that come so often here, while other regions get twelve weeks of summer. All this belongs to you: on the other hand, I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly multiplying in the rows. I doubt you have a heart, in our understanding of that term. You who do not discriminate between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence, immune to foreshadowing, you may not know how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf, the red leaves of the maple falling even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible for these vines.
The Daughter Goes To Camp - Sharon OldsIn the taxi alone, home from the airport,
St. Peter and the Angel - Denise LevertovDelivered out of raw continual pain,
unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening--
And along a long street's
majestic emptiness under the moon:
one hand on the angel's shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed . . .
And not till he saw the angel had left him,
alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel's feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,
the next terrors of freedom and joy.
Behind Grandma's House - Gary Soto
At ten I wanted fame. I had a comb
And two Coke bottles, a tube of Bryl-creem.
I borrowed a dog, one with
Mismatched eyes and a happy tongue,
And wanted to prove I was tough
In the alley, kicking over trash cans,
A dull chime of tuna cans falling.
I hurled light bulbs like grenades
And men teachers held their heads,
Fingers of blood lengthening
On the ground. I flicked rocks at cats,
Their goofy faces spurred with foxtails.
I kicked fences. I shooed pigeons.
I broke a branch from a flowering peach
And frightened ants with a stream of spit.
I said, "Chale," "In your face," and "No way
Daddy-O" to an imaginary priest
Until grandma came into the alley,
Her apron flapping in the breeze,
Her hair mussed, and said, "Let me help you,"
And punched me between the eyes.
Love is not all - Edna St. Vincent Millay, at whose pedestal the college sophomore inside me shall worship always
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food,
It well may be. I do not think I would.
Batter My Heart - John Donne
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit You, but Oh, to no end!
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain.
But am betrothed to Your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to You, imprison me, for I,
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.