Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rae Armantrout


What if I were turned on by seemingly innocent words such as “scumble,” “pinky,”
or extrapolate?”

What if I maneuvered conversation in the hope that others would pronounce
these words?

Perhaps the excitement would come from the way the other person touched
them lightly and carelessly with his tongue.

What if “of” were such a hot button?

“Scumble of bushes.”

What if there were a hidden pleasure
in calling one thing
by another’s name?

From American Hybrid

Richard Brautigan

From Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

May Swenson

The Secret in the Cat

I took my cat apart
to see what made him purr.
Like an electric clock
or like the snore

of a warming kettle,
something fizzed and sizzled in him.
Was he a soft car,
the engine bubbling sound?

Was there a wire beneath his fur,
or humming throttle?
I undid his throat.
Within was no stir.

I opened his chest
as though it were a door:
no whisk or rattle there.
I lifted off his skull:

no hiss or murmur.
I halved his little belly
but found no gear,
no cause for static.

So I replaced his lid,
laced his little gut.
His heart into his vest I slid
and buttoned up his throat.

His tail rose to a rod
and beckoned to the air.
Some voltage made him vibrate
warmer than before.

Whiskers and a tail:
perhaps they caught
some radar code
emitted as a pip, a dot-and-dash

of woolen sound.
My cat a kind of tuning fork?—
doing secret signal work?

His eyes elliptic tubes:
there's a message in his stare.
I stroke him
but cannot find the dial.

From 100 Plus American Poems

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010


Though I am 8

Though I am 8, my father is 63 years old.
He drinks concoctions of chickweed, garlic, and ordinary
pulled out of the front lawn. He blends it with
a machine that wakes me every morning.
It makes a loud growl. He is worried, I think,
he won’t make it to my high school graduation.

Outside, winter swallows my footsteps
as quickly as they are laid,
which makes me cry.

From A Night Without Armor : Poems

Richard Brautigan

Affectionate Light Bulb

I have a 75 watt, glare free, long life
Harmony House light bulb in my toilet.
I have been living in the same apartment
for over two years now
and that bulb just keeps burning away.
I believe that it is fond of me.

From Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Howard Nemerov

To David, About His Education

The world is full of mostly invisible things,
And there is no way but putting the mind’s eye,
Or its nose, in a book, to find them out,
Things like the square root of Everest
Or how many times Byron goes into Texas,
Or whether the law of the excluded middle
Applies west of the Rockies. For these
And the like reasons, you have to go to school
And study books and listen to what you are told,
And sometimes try to remember. Though I don’t know
What you will do with the mean annual rainfall
On Plato’s Republic, or the calorie content
Of the Diet of Worms, such things are said to be
Good for you, and you will have to learn them
In order to become one of the grown-ups
Who sees invisible things neither steadily nor whole,
But keeps gravely the grand confusion of the world
Under his hat, which is where it belongs,
And teaches small children to do this in their turn.

From 100 Plus American Poems

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nikki Giovanni


her grandmother called her from the playground
“yes, ma’am”
“i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less
dependent on her spirit so
she said
“i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

From 100 Essential Modern Poems By Women.

Jo McDougall

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Linda Pastan

What We Want

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names—
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

From 100 Essential Modern Poems By Women.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Walt Whitman

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add,
divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

From 100 Plus American Poems

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Linda Gregg

I think this poem is from Alma.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kim Addonizio


Why did she cross the road?
She should have stayed in her little cage,
shat upon by her sisters above her,
shitting on her sisters below her.

God knows how she got out.
God sees everything. God has his eye
on the chicken, making her break
like the convict headed for the river,

sloshing his way through the water
to throw off the dogs, raising
his arms to starlight to praise
whatever isn't locked in a cell.

He'll make it to a farmhouse
where kind people will feed him.
They'll bring green beans and bread,
home-brewed hops. They'll bring

the chicken the farmer found
by the side of the road, dazed
from being clipped by a pickup,
whose delicate brain stem

he snapped with a twist,
whose asshole his wife stuffed
with rosemary and a lemon wedge.
Everything has its fate,

but only God knows what that is.
The spirit of the chicken will enter the convict.
Sometimes, in his boxy apartment,
listening to his neighbors above him,

annoying his neighbors below him,
he'll feel a terrible hunger
and an overwhelming urge
to jab his head at the television over and over.

From Best American Poetry 2004

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mark Doty


In a scene in the film
shot at Bergen-Belsen days after
the liberation of the camp
a woman brushes her hair.

Though her gesture is effortless
it seems also for the first time,
as if she has just remembered
that she has long hair,

that it is a pleasure
to brush, and that pleasure
is possible. And the mirror
beside which the camera must be rolling,

the combing out and tying back
of the hair, all possible.
She wears a new black sweater
The relief workers have brought,

Clothes to replace the body’s
visible hungers. Perhaps
she is a little shy of the camera,
or else she is distracted

by the new wool and plain wonder
of the hairbrush, because
on her face is a sort of dulled,
dreamy look, as if part

of herself that recognizes
the simple familiar good of brushing
is floating back into her
the way the spiritualists say

the etheric body returns to us
when we wake from sleep’s long travel.
With each stroke she restores
something of herself, and one

at a time the arms and hands
and face remember, the scalp
remembers that her hair
is a part of her, her own.

From Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in Broad Daylight

Rae Armantrout


We know the story.

She turns
back to find her trail
devoured by birds.

The years; the

From American Hybrid

Wednesday, December 1, 2010