Sunday, August 31, 2008

Telling it Like it is...

My hat goes off to Stacey Lynn Brown who discloses the potentially unethical nature of poetry contests. Obviously this kind of behaviour is unconscionable. The question is how often does this happen without anyone being the wiser? ... The full story here: A Cautionary Tale

After Conducting an Exhaustive Search:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaack......................!

Just got back from a trip to Calabria. I had no access to a computer so you have been reading posts that I scheduled before leaving. Glad to see that many of you enjoyed the poems. Got some great pics and bumped into a couple of blog readers overseas. More later! Hope everyone had a great summer.

(P.S. - Pictured here after having a great meal at a friend's villa in Castrovillari. Thumbs up...cheers!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1990 - Charles Simic

Butcher Shop
by Charles Simic

Sometimes walking late at night
I stop before a closed butcher shop.
There is a single light in the store
Like the light in which the convict digs his tunnel.

An apron hangs on the hook:
The blood on it smeared into a map
Of the great continents of blood,
The great rivers and oceans of blood.

There are knives that glitter like altars
In a dark church
Where they bring the cripple and the imbecile
To be healed.

There's wooden block where bones are broken,
Scraped clean--a river dried to its bed
Where I am fed,
Where deep in the night I hear a voice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Wanting to Die
Anne Sexton

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don't always die,
but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue!--
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1964 - Lewis Simpson

Working Late
Louis Simpson

A light is on in my father's study.
"Still up?" he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.

He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.

Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire--
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I opened a closet . . . bang!
There would be the dead man's head
with a black hole in the forehead.

All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,
before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.

Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.

And the light that used to shine
at night in my father's study
now shines as late in mine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

William Jay Smith



A short-order cook is the mealymouthed critic,
In his chromium kitchen long has he rambled;
Attacks an egg with a little egg beater
And serves it shirred, or blurred, or scrambled.



Lady Biographer

She devotes her life to the lives of others,
Sees the poor mad poets as they were;
And how they'd have been if they'd had nice mothers,
Or if they all had married her.

*Collected in Smith's POEMS, 1947-57
(Boston: Little Brown, 1957)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1960 -William Snodgrass

April Inventory
W. D. Snodgrass

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.

The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.

The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I'd ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who's trusted me
I'd be substantial, presently.

I haven't read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.

And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead's notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler's.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.

I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.

I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body's hunger;
That I have forces true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.

While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.

Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Four Poems for Robin

Gary Snyder

Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under-----rhododendron
All night-----blossoms fell
Shivering on a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck-----in my pack
Hands deep-----in my pockets
Barely able -----to -----sleep.
I remembered-----when we were in school
Sleeping together---in a big warm bed
We were----- the youngest lovers
When we broke up -----we were still nineteen
Now our---friends are married
You teach school back east
I dont mind----living this way
Green hills----the long blue beach
But sometimes ------sleeping in the open
I think back-----when I had you.

A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were--
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
----- karma demands.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1953 - Wallace Stevens

Metaphors of a Magnifico
Wallace Stevens

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.

This is old song
That will not declare itself . . .

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Twenty men crossing a bridge
Into a village.

That will not declare itself
Yet is certain as meaning . . .

The boots of the men clump
On the boards of the bridge.
The first white wall of the village
Rises through fruit-trees.
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes.

The first white wall of the village . . .
The fruit-trees . . .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mark Strand

The Remains

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


James Tate

I was walking out of the health food store
and into the parking lot when something powerful
and strange stopped me dead in my tracks. A woman
dressed from head to toe in a black veil, a bui-bui,
I believe it’s called in Arabic, stood stock-still,
alone, tall, only her eyes showing, but oh what eyes,
like bits of onyx set in virgin snow. A panther would
have been less shocking than this woman. Everyone
who saw her just stopped and stared. Normal manners
didn’t seem to apply to this situation. She was
the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and yet,
I saw nothing but those eyes. Perhaps she was stricken
in terror. Children walked right up to her and stood
staring in awe. It felt like some tremendous mistake.
But maybe she was only dreaming, and we were dreaming
along with her. It was a cruel dream, the kind that
changes you forever, and waking from it was strictly
forbidden. Her bui-bui was made in Heaven, the blackest
corner of it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Robert Thomas

Quarter Past Blue

It’s just the sort of paper-thin night
to make me steal the clapper from the mission bell
and leave it on your doorstep like a stuttered prayer.
In your room I see a writing light,
soft and dirty as an oyster.
I know you can hear me
out here in the static,
scraping on your pane like a raccoon.
I’ve been to the pond.
It’s not as if the swans were your personal secret.
Come out and walk with me across the Sonoma
town square, on the edge of the green.
I’m wearing my papier-mâché wings,
and they’re not yet dry. The moon’s been released
on its own recognizance. This is serious traffic, gridlock
intergalactical, Friday-night lust and spleen. This is
the it they mean when they say this is it. You are so
caught up in your own devotions. You are so not
what you think you are. It’s late,
half past revelation, quarter past blue,
and you’re still counting the chits, waiting for something
better than love as cold and magical as dry ice
to come along and sideswipe you, hit and run,
without leaving a scratch.

First published in Field; also appears in 2004 Pushcart Prize anthology.

Friday, August 08, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1918 - Sara Teasdale

Only in Sleep
Sara Teasdale

Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

Only in sleep Time is forgotten --
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild --
Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pulitzer Prize Winner: 1991 - Mona Van Duyn

Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri
Mona Van Duyn

The quake last night was nothing personal,
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders,
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel,
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me.
One small, sensuous catastrophe
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross,
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell
to planets, nearing the universal roll,
in our conceit even comprehending the sun,
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.

Monday, August 04, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1979 & 1958 - Robert Penn Warren

San Francisco Night Windows
Robert Penn Warren

So hangs the hour like fruit fullblown and sweet,
Our strict and desperate avatar,
Despite that antique westward gulls lament
Over enormous waters which retreat
Weary unto the white and sensual star.
Accept these images for what they are--
Out of the past a fragile element
Of substance into accident.
I would speak honestly and of a full heart;
I would speak surely for the tale is short,
And the soul's remorseless catalogue
Assumes its quick and piteous sum.
Think you, hungry is the city in the fog
Where now the darkened piles resume
Their framed and frozen prayer
Articulate and shafted in the stone
Against the void and absolute air.
If so the frantic breath could be forgiven,
And the deep blood subdued before it is gone
In a savage paternoster to the stone,
Then might we all be shriven.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER: 1989 & 1957 - Richard Wilbur

The Writer
Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.