One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled, stooped to pull harder— when, sprung out of the earth on his glittering terrible carriage, he claimed his due. It is finished. No one heard her. No one! She had strayed from the herd.
(Remember: go straight to school. This is important, stop fooling around! Don't answer to strangers. Stick with your playmates. Keep your eyes down.) This is how easily the pit opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.
How much death works, No one knows what a long Day he puts in. The little Wife always alone Ironing death's laundry. The beautiful daughters Setting death's supper table. The neighbors playing Pinochle in the backyard Or just sitting on the steps Drinking beer. Death, Meanwhile, in a strange Part of town looking for Someone with a bad cough, But the address somehow wrong, Even death can't figure it out Among all the locked doors... And the rain beginning to fall. Long windy night ahead. Death with not even a newspaper To cover his head, not even A dime to call the one pining away, Undressing slowly, sleepily, And stretching naked On death's side of the bed.
INCOMPLETE SILENCE . What an incomplete silence among so many sounds! Now, and only now, they are trying to tell us that they loved and they forgot, and always remained far from any final truth. Love is an unredeemable debt contracted in the dark and only death can free the debtors from default.
Everything will reach its end in an ocean of shadows. The dead also cease, after so many tears, and masses sung and notices in the daily newspapers. We are born to evaporate, after having been water lapping at the boatyard launching ramp. We are born to say our name to the wind.
Our bodies crawled to the entrance of the cave. But where were our souls at that moment of ecstasy and bondage? They were hidden like bats, sleeping, as placid as placentas.
A High-Toned Old Christian Womanby Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame. Take the moral law and make a nave of it And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus, The conscience is converted into palms, Like windy citherns hankering for hymns. We agree in principle. That's clear. But take The opposing law and make a peristyle, And from the peristyle project a masque Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness, Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last, Is equally converted into palms, Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm, Madame, we are where we began. Allow, Therefore, that in the planetary scene Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed, Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade, Proud of such novelties of the sublime, Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk, May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres. This will make widows wince. But fictive things Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.
The Death of Myth-Making . Two virtues ride, by stallion, by nag, To grind our knives and scissors: Lantern-jawed Reason, squat Common Sense, One courting doctors of all sorts, One, housewives and shopkeepers.
The trees are lopped, the poodles trim, The laborer's nails pared level Since those two civil servants set Their whetstone to the blunted edge And minced the muddling devil
Whose owl-eyes in the scraggly wood Scared mothers to miscarry, Drove the dogs to cringe and whine And turned the farmboy's temper wolfish, The housewife's, desultory.
Mason's Children . Lyrics By: Robert Hunter Music By: Jerry Garcia . Mason died on Monday We bricked him in the wall All his children grew and grew They never grew so tall before May they never grow so tall again
We dug him up on Tuesday He'd hardly aged a day Taught us all he ever knew We never knew so much before We may never know so much again
Mason was a mighty man A mighty man was he All he said, when dead and gone Don't you weep for me
The wall collapsed on Wednesday We chalked it up to fate All his children ran and hid We never hid so well before Swore we'd never show our face again
Thursday came, then Friday With fires tall and bright Mason's children cooked the stew And cleaned up when the feast was through Swore we'd never had such times before
Take me to the Reaper Man To pay back what was loaned If he's in some other land Write it off as stoned
Death of an Irishwoman . Ignorant, in the sense she ate monotonous food and thought the world was flat, and pagan, in the sense she knew the things that moved at night were neither dogs nor cats but púcas and darkfaced men, she nevertheless had fierce pride. But sentenced in the end to eat thin diminishing porridge in a stone-cold kitchen she clenched her brittle hands around a world she could not understand. I loved her from the day she died. She was a summer dance at the crossroads. She was a card game where a nose was broken. She was a song that nobody sings. She was a house ransacked by soldiers. She was a language seldom spoken. She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.
Once I dreamt of heat so hot neither love nor fire could touch it burns my skin red glistening brown these summer days how I dream they will never go away I only live for 3 months out of the year seasons change and you move on, seasons change light is beautiful how they show off their sun kissed model’s bodies
Memento . Like a reminder of this life of trams, sun, sparrows, and the flighty uncontrolledness of streams leaping like thermometers, and because ducks are quacking somewhere above the crackling of the last, paper-thin ice, and because children are crying bitterly (remember children's lives are so sweet!) and because in the drunken, shimmering starlight the new moon whoops it up, and a stocking crackles a bit at the knee, gold in itself and tinged by the sun, like a reminder of life, and because there is resin on tree trunks, and because I was madly mistaken in thinking that my life was over, like a reminder of my life - you entered into me on stockinged feet. You entered - neither too late nor too early - at exactly the right time, as my very own, and with a smile, uprooted me from memories, as from a grave. And I, once again whirling among the painted horses, gladly exchange, for one reminder of life, all its memories. 1974
Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight . They mouth love's language. Gnash The thirteen teeth Your lean jaws grin with. Lash Your itch and quailing, nude greed of the flesh. Love's breath in you is stale, worded or sung, As sour as cat's breath, Harsh of tongue.
This grey that stares Lies not, stark skin and bone. Leave greasy lips their kissing. None Will choose her what you see to mouth upon. Dire hunger holds his hour. Pluck forth your heart, saltblood, a fruit of tears. Pluck and devour!
Sonnet 116 . Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
The Road Goes Ever On . The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
Roosevelt . Workingmen believed He busted trusts, And put his picture in their windows. "What he'd have done in France!" They said. Perhaps he would-- He could have died Perhaps, Though generals rarely die except in bed, As he did finally. And all the legends that he started in his life Live on and prosper, Unhampered now by his existence.
Nothing grows except the grass. Nothing leaps into sight except some stone and what the stone contains and protects. Here, far from the beach, far from the place where the water returns every so often rusted metal, mouldy wood, the corpse of a dolphin or a turtle. The wind does not blow with the force to propel us as far as the promised then. The minutes that pass become hours but never days, they become nights that never agree to be years, and centuries in which somebody dies and someone else, who does not know it, yawns.
Gazing into the Distance One Autumn Day . my imaginary lover has already left in a hurry windows stand open like eyelashes in this autumn room an overbearing man suns his body out on the balcony rippled repeatedly by a lukewarm breeze
like a plaza of crowding trees that autocrat, King Desire has prepared a magnificent celebration for Himself
the vast silences infect one another and in the midst of all this he sees, far off in the distance, the first tree set itself on fire . . .
I Carry Your Heart With Me . i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
Love One Another . Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone. Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together. For the pillars of the temple stand apart. And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Cumberland Blues . . Lyrics By: Robert Hunter Music By: Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh . I can't stay here much longer, Melinda The sun is getting high I can't help you with your troubles If you won't help with mine I gotta get down I gotta get down Gotta get down to the mine
You keep me up just one more night I can't stop here no more Little Ben clock says quarter to eight You kept me up till four I gotta get down I gotta get down Or I can't work there no more
Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill Will keep him happy all the time Some other fellow's making nothing at all And you can hear him cry
Can I go, buddy, can I go down Take your shift at the mine Gotta get down to the Cumberland mine That's where I mainly spend my time
Make good money, five dollars a day If I made any more I might move away
Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues He can't win for losing Lotta poor man got to walk the line Just to pay his union dues
I don't know now, I just don't know If I'm going back again I don't know now, I just don't know If I'm going back again
Determined to Remember . . Determined to remember, as an ocean swept over his pen he gathered his words together like pebbles on a beach. Sitting there he started tapping them one against the other and in the splinters that sprang away he saw faces, wild tresses. He could not hold back the outbreak of cries and rushed into the water, with the sky for infinity. His memories turned the page into a whirlpool.
Self Portrait At Twenty Years . I set off, I took up the march and never knew where it might take me. I went full of fear, my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing: I think it was the icy wind of the dead. I don't know. I set off, I thought it was a shame to leave so soon, but at the same time I heard that mysterious and convincing call. You either listen or you don't, and I listened and almost burst out crying: a terrible sound, born on the air and in the sea. A sword and shield. And then, despite the fear, I set off, I put my cheek against death's cheek. And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing that strange spectacle, slow and strange, though fixed in such a swift reality: thousands of guys like me, baby-faced or bearded, but Latin American, all of us, brushing cheeks with death.
The wheel of the quivering meat conception Turns in the void expelling human beings, Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits, Mice, lice, lizards, rats, roan Racinghorses, poxy bucolic pigtics, Horrible unnameable lice of vultures, Murderous attacking dog-armies Of Africa, Rhinos roaming in the jungle, Vast boars and huge gigantic bull Elephants, rams, eagles, condors, Pones and Porcupines and Pills— All the endless conception of living beings Gnashing everywhere in Consciousness Throughout the ten directions of space Occupying all the quarters in & out, From supermicroscopic no-bug To huge Galaxy Lightyear Bowell Illuminating the sky of one Mind— Poor! I wish I was free of that slaving meat wheel and safe in heaven dead.
Sonnet To Liberty . These are the letters which Endymion wrote To one he loved in secret, and apart. And now the brawlers of the auction mart Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note, Ay! for each separate pulse of passion quote The merchant's price. I think they love not art Who break the crystal of a poet's heart That small and sickly eyes may glare and gloat.
Is it not said that many years ago, In a far Eastern town, some soldiers ran With torches through the midnight, and began To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw Dice for the garments of a wretched man, Not knowing the God's wonder, or His woe?
Inheritance/Improvisation . Inheritance. I wasn't raised to call myself Black, Indian, Chinese-- "You're human," said my parents. That was all.
By the west window sits a Chinese camphor chest folded full of blankets and grandmother's dresses. Tiny Chinese bones she had. They'll never fit me but the fabric's pretty.
Atop the chest: a set of Mali drums. Oh yeah, I play the djembe... some... My father's folk, in distant history-- you understand, that link is lost to me. All I have now is echo.
Improvisation. On the eastern wall a saxophonist plays. Black, yellow, red his clothes. His notes escape the frame and fall like water on imaginary ears. He's got good roots. The cross-bred tree grows tall.