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D(Y)D Someone Say Poems (?!?!?)


That Music Always Round Me

Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
.

That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long
untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes
of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense
waves,
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the
universe,
The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and
violins, all of these I fill myself with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the
exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving,
contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in
emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves—but now I think I
begin to know them


I Do

Sjohnna McCray, 1972
.

Driving the highway from Atlanta to Phoenix
means swapping one type of heat for another.
A bead of sweat rolls over my chest,
around my belly and evaporates
so quickly I forget I’m sweating.
Body chemistry changes like the color
of my skin: from yellow to sienna.
My sister says, it’s a dry heat.

    At dusk, lightning storms over the mesas. 
    Violets and grays lie down together.
    Mountains are the color of father’s hands,
    layers of dark—then light. 
    People move west to die, retire in a life
    of dust, trade the pollen of the south
    for a thin coat of grit, the Arizona desert—
    promesas, promesas. 

We stop on the outskirts of town
and think about being reborn.
When he places his mouth near my mouth
because he’s so obviously thirsty,
when he moves to the well
where my tongue spouts out
because we’re mostly made of water
two-thirds of me is certain:
este infierno vale la pena.
This hell is worth the risk


Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Sally Wen Mao
.

In Lijiang, the sign outside your hostel
glares: Ride alone, ride alone, ride
alone – it taunts you for the mileage
of your solitude, must be past

thousands, for you rode this plane
alone, this train alone, you’ll ride
this bus alone well into the summer night,
well into the next hamlet, town,

city, the next century, as the trees twitch
and the clouds wane and the tides
quiver and the galaxies tilt and the sun
spins us another lonely cycle, you’ll

wonder if this compass will ever change.
The sun doesn’t need more heat,
so why should you? The trees don’t need
to be close, so why should you?


Still Life with Antidepressants

Aaron Smith
.

The afternoon light lights
the room in a smudged
sheen, a foggy-eyed glow.

The dog digs at the couch,
low-growling at the mailman.
I’m spelling words with pills

spilled consolidating bottles:
yes and try and most of happy:
Maybe I’ll empty them all.

A woman I don’t know
is having a drill drill into her
skull. To get rid of the thing

requires entering the brain.
How to imagine a story
that ends with that ending?

I don’t know how to live my life,
but at least today I want to


Daywork

Jessica Fisher
.

Close your eyes he said and took my hand.
There was something he wanted to show me,
something I couldn’t see. Raised like a scar,
a seam running through the body, here
where the day went dark. I’d wanted to see
the limits of sight, to know where the painter
had found an edge, and stopped,
the day done and the brushes washed,
the figure left to dry, in the dark room
someone half made would try to close his open eye
and find that eye will stay open and never see,
never see the rearing horse he rides
you know the posture you’ve leant back in the saddle
the beast beneath you pulled at its reins and told it to quit
it can’t quit it’s trying to it’s trying to stop
the bit in the mouth and no sight in its eyes
seen and yet blind this was the drama
he wanted to show don’t you think or think
of the woman holding the room on her shoulders
have you ever felt like that like you are to keep
very still while the others move around you
in birth I remember the midwife took my reins
is that right she held me here and there
and reached inside she was touching my baby
I had nothing to do but let it happen
I let it happen so well trained really a vehicle
you ride me or drive me oh but if you are the head
I am the neck I will turn you to my advantage
will make you see what is wrought through me


Hurricane Song

Kevin Young, 1970
.

Lady, won’t you wait
out the hurricane

all night at my place—
we’ll take cover like

the lamps & I’ll
let you oil

my scalp. Please, I needs
a good woman’s hands

caught in my hair, turning
my knots to butter.

All night we’ll churn.
Dawn

will lean in too soon—
you’ll leave out into

the wet world, winded
& alone, knowing

the me only
midnight sees


The Gift to Sing

James Weldon Johnson, 1871 - 1928
.

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing


October

Helen Hunt Jackson
.

Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance


On Speaking Quietly with My Brother

Jay Deshpande
.

You who threw the rock at the back of my head
as hard as you could at four because you thought
this was how to make a stone skip on the ocean,
I have watched you in the dark of a yard
where we can only see each other by a lamp left on
some rooms away. We can see only
one another’s chin. Soon, you will stay up
through the night after I fall
into a laughing sleep. Two moths dust
the same screen for remembered light.
We have all been removed from the lyrics, brother,
our names will be stricken from the papers.

When I think of you and me and recall some
adolescent sunrise, standing on rooftops,
blue still the island but the bowl of it about
to fill with light, it is perhaps strange and horrible
to know one day one of us will die
and the other will be alive, volume turned up,
his mouth now weighing twice as much.
We cannot be excused from this
device of road and harrow, from this weight
we heft and heave. So, you will be the sister.
And I will be the sister. And you—
you are about to give me my words.


Please Welcome , Tha One ,
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Cat in an Empty Apartment
Wisława Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

Die—you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here
but nothing is the same.
Nothing’s been moved
but there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,
but they’re new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.

Something doesn’t start
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.

Every closet’s been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken:
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.

Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

+++++++++

A Song On The End Of The World
Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.

++++++++

'Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend’
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

+++++++

That the Science of Cartography Is Limited
—and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.
Look down you said: this was once a famine road.
I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended

and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of
the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.

-Eavan Boland

+++++++++

ONE ORDINARY EVENING
Virginia Hamilton Adair

Lying entwined with you
on the long sofa

the hi-fi helping
Isolde to her climax

I was clipping
the coarse hairs

from your ears
and ruby nostrils

when you said, “Music
for cutting nose wires”

and we shook so
the nailscissors nicked

your gentle neck
blood your blood

I cleansed the place
with my tongue

and we clung tight
pelted with Teutonic cries

till the player
lifted its little prick

from the groove
all arias over

leaving us
in post-Wagnerian sadness

later that year
you were dead

by your own hand
blood your blood

I have never understood
I will never understand.