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I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats
floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofs
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the
scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror
through the wall,
You do not do, you do not do
Anymore, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.
Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time -
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one grey toe
Big as a frisco seal
And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters of beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Pollack friend
Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene
An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.
The snows of Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Anre not very pure of true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.
I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat moustache
and your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less the devil for that, oh not
Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even bones would do,
But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look
And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephones cut off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.
If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.
There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
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.
A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them
a woman 'in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles'
in her 98 years to discover
she whom the moon ruled
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses
Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled in those spaces of the mind
'virile, precise and absolutely certain'
from the mad webs of Uranusborg
encountering the NOVA
every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us
Tycho whispering at last
'Let me not seem to have lived in vain'
What we see, we see
and seeing is changing
the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive
Heartbeat of a pulsar
heart sweating through my body
The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus
I am bombarded yet I stand
I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me And has
taken I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.
Dewdney, Christopher from Signal Fires, McClelland &Stewart Inc., 2000, pg 33
The door of the desert has opened,
skeletons of words
tumble in the frozen wind like dead leaves.
I have awakened
from the dream of meaning
into the implacable narcissism
of the word.
For within words is the progeny of words.
and I am caught in their honey.
In the transparent desert air
the angel appeared, flattened
against a dividend of reality so temporal,
so variegated, she was consumed
by the blank empire
of its shadows. She shone,
dustily iridescent in the
waning light of the setting sun
and I saw the ghosts of words,
pluck her sides
Now, within the fossil dance of words,
when letters hung like insects
in mind's amber, I sing
this dusty kingdom of Braille,
while skeletons of words
the shadow of shadows
intone our names
across the dusty plain.
Dewdney, Christopher from Demon Pond, McClelland &Stewart Inc., 1994, pg 41
This evening the desert wind
blows down the highway, stretches
fingers of sand across the asphalt.
We drive beneath a night sky into the blank,
Our car is a chariot, is a blown
four-forty, a leaf, driven by swamp gas
three-hundred million years old.
At the edge of the flats
there are mountains,
there are abandoned mines where
Their lives are inconceivable
to themselves, as their suffering
is inconceivable to us.
And in the darkness
that illuminates this night
from the inside
the mountains are invisible,
locked out of the cones
our headlights make.
On the evening of
the last night you will ever
know, when the heavens
fall away and the planets
become magnified pictures of themselves,
like illustrations in a children's book,
there is a sky so blue it is inconceivable.
It is the darkness uncovered,
when night caves up
into a deeper midnight, a cobalt
so lost and intimate
that your heart fills with dread and love.
And on this last night
your heart will form the shape
of a constellation and the sky
will ring with your music. The desert wind
will blow clear through you
and the mystery
of everything will be
absolutely sill, transparent
at the centre
of a storm of glass.
But tonight we are merely adorned
with the instruments of our deaths.
Down the highway and through the night
we carry golden monkeys on our backs.
into the blank insulation
of all the sadness, all
the joys of life
becoming a double crystal,
fire and ice.
It is our turn to know
the absolute, the pure
by Billy Collins
Hamlet noticed them in the shapes of clouds,
but I saw them in the furniture of childhood,
creatures trapped under surfaces of wood,
one submerged in a polished sideboard,
one frowning from a chair-back,
another howling from my mother’s silent bureau,
locked in the grain of maple, frozen in oak.
I would see these presences, too,
in a swirling pattern of wallpaper
or in the various greens of a porcelain lamp,
each looking so melancholy, so damned,
some peering out at me as if they knew
all the secrets of a secretive boy.
Many times I would be daydreaming
on the carpet and one would appear next to me,
the oversize nose, the hollow look.
So you will understand my reaction
this morning at the beach
when you opened your hand to show me
a stone you had picked up from the shoreline.
“Do you see the face?” you asked
as the cold surf circled our bare ankles.
“There’s the eye and the line of the mouth,
like it’s grimacing, like it’s in pain.”
“Well, maybe that’s because it has a fissure
running down the length of its forehead
not to mention a kind of twisted beak,” I said,
taking the thing from you and flinging it out
over the sparkle of blue waves
so it could live out its freakish existence
on the dark bottom of the sea
and stop bothering innocent beachgoers like us,
stop ruining everyone’s summer.
Billy Collins, “Creatures” from Nine Horses. Copyright © 2002 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of Random House, Inc.
Source: Nine Horses: Poems (Random House, Inc., 2002).
Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.
When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton
while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.
How you became a poet's a mystery!
Wherever did you get your talent from?
I say: I had two uncles, Joe and Harry -
One was a stammerer, the other dumb.
The Clitoral Nature of Colonialism or What Happened To Our Dela
the water in the iron basin reflect her hair
it lie there
engrossed by the stare
of our mamma
our story teller
The sun shines on her voice
with rays of pleasantries
with strokes of plenitude
an air of delight
as she speaks with so much power
so much power and so much might
Our eyes survey her presence
and she asks that we not despair
this is about life
about the lives that was
and those to come
and those to regain
for pleasure and not shame
of lives and land
to reclaim and rename
of experiences unknown
untold but bold
tells the story
and so it unfolds:
We hear mamma talk about the shore
the tip of Africa -- our home -- our life
about the white man's dreams
and oh, so galore
she tells their desires
of the young Black girls they admire
of the girls who they ask to parade
not in the sunlight
but in their shade
where they lie and compete
for fresh Black women's meat
and so they explore
on every possible shore
forever and ever
for Black women for their dela
for their tings dat hang like grapes
for der tings dat hold dem men tings tight
for der dela brings delight
delight and pleasure
to the white man's liesure
Der story is not finished
we are told dat there is more
we know all about der shore
about der rules and der law
about der women who lived before
about der times when we were more
Mamma tells about der times
when the rivers ran and ran
when they covered all the land
when der women washed in der shore
when they were grabbed and spoke no more
We want to cry
but mamma says "No"
there's no tears for what happened
no tears for all der years
no time to reminisce
if we are only going to miss
the objective of the lesson
of the lesson and the story
of our pain and future glory
of the glory still to come
if we stand and fight as one
and build our hearts and hopes
and dream about the land that's ours
and keep our dela safe ashore
in our bloomers
shut behind our door
and still our fight
in their hands tight
The plan is clear as daylight
our legs apart
our hearts crossed
our fists clenched
our mouths sealed
pressed hard against our will
our dela pinched closed
our teeth chattering to our spirits
our spirits racing to the future
racing for the day
when our dela can be ours
and only ours
to have and to hold
to savour and to fold
We clasp our hands together
and jpin mamma loud in song
it's a pray and a story
a story and a song
a story overdue
Within the shelter of black yews
The owls in ranks are ranged apart
Like foreign gods, whose eyeballs dart
Red fire. They meditate and muse.
Without a stir, they will remain
Till, in its melancholy hour,
Thrusting the sun from power,
The shade establishes its reign.
Their attitude instructs the sage,
Content with what is near at hand,
To shun all motion, strife and rage.
Men crazed with shadows that they chase,
Bear as punishment, the brand
Of having wished to change their place
1: Eno aged Mother,
Who the chariot of Leutha guides,
Since the day of thunders in old time
2: Sitting beneath the eternal Oak
Trembled and shook the stedfast Earth
And thus her speech broke forth.
3: O Times remote!
When Love & joy were adoration:
And none impure were deem'd.
Not Eyeless Covet
Nor Thin-lip'd Envy
Nor Bristled Wrath
Nor Curled Wantonness
4: But Covet was poured full:
Envy fed with fat of lambs:
Wrath with lions gore:
Wantonness lulld to sleep
With the virgins lute,
Or sated with her love.
5: Till Covet broke his locks & bars,
And slept with open doors:
Envy sung at the rich mans feast:
Wrath was follow'd up and down
By a little ewe lamb
And Wantoness on his own true love
Begot a giant race:
6: Raging furious the flames of desire
Ran thro' heaven & earth, living flames
Intelligent, organiz'd: arm'd
With destruction & plagues. In the midst
The Eternal Prophet bound in a chain
Compell'd to watch Urizens shadow
7: Rag'd with curses & sparkles of fury
Round the flames roll as Los hurls his chains
Mounting up from his fury, condens'd
Rolling round & round, mounting on high
Into vacuum: into non-entity.
Where nothing was! dash'd wide apart
His feet stamp the eternal fierce-raging
Rivers of wide flame; they roll round
And round on all sides making their way
Into darkness and shadowy obscurity
8: Wide apart stood the fires: Los remain'd
In the void between fire and fire[.]
In trembling and horror they beheld him
They stood wide apart, driv'n by his hands
And his feet which the nether abyss
Stamp'd in fury and hot indignation
9: But no light from the fires all was
Darkness round Los: heat was not; for bound up
Into fiery spheres from his fury
The gigantic flames trembled and hid
10: Coldness, darkness, obstruction, a Solid
Without fluctuation, hard as adamant
Black as marble of Egypt; impenetrable
Bound in the fierce raging Immortal.
And the seperated fires froze in
A vast solid without fluctuation,
Bound in his expanding clear senses
1: The Immortal stood frozen amidst
The vast rock of eternity; times
And times; a night of vast durance:
Impatient, stifled, stiffend, hardned.
2: Till impatience no longer could bear
The hard bondage, rent: rent, the vast solid
With a crash from immense to immense
3: Crack'd across into numberless fragments
The Prophetic wrath, strug'ling for vent
Hurls apart, stamping furious to dust
And crumbling with bursting sobs; heaves
The black marble on high into fragments
4: Hurl'd apart on all sides, as a falling
Rock: the innumerable fragments away
Fell asunder; and horrible vacuum
Beneath him & on all sides round.
5: Falling, falling! Los fell & fell
Sunk precipitant heavy down down
Times on times, night on night, day on day
Truth has bounds. Error none: falling, falling:
Years on years, and ages on ages
Still he fell thro' the void, still a void
Found for falling day & night without end.
For tho' day or night was not; their spaces
Were measurd by his incessant whirls
In the horrid vacuity bottomless.
6: The Immortal revolving; indignant
First in wrath threw his limbs, like the babe
New born into our world: wrath subsided
And contemplative thoughts first arose
Then aloft his head rear'd in the Abyss
And his downward-borne fall. chang'd oblique
7: Many ages of groans: till there grew
Branchy forms. organizing the Human
Into finite inflexible organs.
8: Till in process from falling he bore
Sidelong on the purple air, wafting
The weak breeze in efforts oerwearied
9: Incessant the falling Mind labour'd
Organizing itself: till the Vacuum
Became element, pliant to rise,
Or to fall, or to swim, or to fly:
With ease searching the dire vacuity
1: The Lungs heave incessant, dull and heavy
For as yet were all other parts formless
Shiv'ring: clinging around like a cloud
Dim & glutinous as the white Polypus
Driv'n by waves & englob'd on the tide.
2: And the unformed part crav'd repose
Sleep began: the Lungs heave on the wave
Weary overweigh'd, sinking beneath
In a stifling black fluid he woke
3: He arose on the waters, but soon
Heavy falling his organs like roots
Shooting out from the seed, shot beneath,
And a vast world of waters around him
In furious torrents began.
4: Then he sunk, & around his spent Lungs
Began intricate pipes that drew in
The spawn of the waters. Outbranching
An immense Fibrous form, stretching out
Thro' the bottoms of immensity raging.
5: He rose on the floods: then he smote
The wild deep with his terrible wrath,
Seperating the heavy and thin.
6: Down the heavy sunk; cleaving around
To the fragments of solid: up rose
The thin, flowing round the fierce fires
That glow'd furious in the expanse.
1: Then Light first began; from the fires
Beams, conducted by fluid so pure.
Flow'd around the Immense: Los beheld
Forthwith writhing upon the dark void
The Back bone of Urizen appear
Hurtling upon the wind
Like a serpent! like an iron chain
Whirling about in the Deep.
2: Upfolding his Fibres together
To a Form of impregnable strength
Los astonish'd and terrified, built
Furnaces; he formed an Anvil
A Hammer of adamant then began
The binding of Urizen day and night
3: Circling round the dark Demon, with howlings
Dismay & sharp blightings; the Prophet
Of Eternity beat on his iron links
4: And first from those infinite fires
The light that flow'd down on the winds
He siez'd; beating incessant, condensing
The subtil particles in an Orb.
5: Roaring indignant the bright sparks
Endur'd the vast Hammer; but unwearied
Los beat on the Anvil; till glorious
An immense Orb of fire he fram'd
6: Oft he quench'd it beneath in the Deeps
Then surveyd the all bright mass. Again
Siezing fires from the terrific Orbs
He heated the round Globe, then beat[,]
While roaring his Furnaces endur'd
The chaind Orb in their infinite wombs
7: Nine ages completed their circles
When Los heated the glowing mass, casting
It down into the Deeps: the Deeps fled
Away in redounding smoke; the Sun
Stood self-balanc'd. And Los smild with joy.
He the vast Spine of Urizen siez'd
And bound down to the glowing illusion
8: But no light, for the Deep fled away
On all sides, and left an unform'd
Dark vacuity: here Urizen lay
In fierce torments on his glowing bed
9: Till his Brain in a rock, & his Heart
In a fleshy slough formed four rivers
Obscuring the immense Orb of fire
Flowing down into night: till a Form
Was completed, a Human Illusion
In darkness and deep clouds involvd.
The End of the
Book of LOS
A Poison Tree
by William Blake
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine -
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.