For Jane – Charles Bukowski
225 days under grass
and you know more than I.
they have long taken your blood,
you are a dry stick in a basket.
is this how it works?
in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.
when you left
you took almost
I kneel in the nights
that will not let me be.
what you were
will not happen again.
the tigers have found me
and I do not care.
the strongest of the strange
you don’t see them often
for wherever the crowd is
these odd ones, not
but from them
and from the
best of the
sometimes I think I see
them – say
a certain old
sitting on a
in a certain
a quick face
going the other
in a passing
there’s a certain motion
of the hands
of a bag-boy or a bag-girl
it is even somebody
you have been
you will notice
you will only note
after they are
he was about
20 years old
from Les Allures Naturelles, Pierre Alferi (trans. Chet Wiener)
just this side of a certain pace
the equilibrium is broken. The sound of the piece
on its edge reaching the end turning tales
or heads, spinning on the tangent
sound that hesitates to sound
that concentrates and that renounces
is recognizable anywhere
like the gasp of the needle when the arm
rushes to the center and the record
holds still. Then
it’s not a matter of starting up
the speed again but of placing the arm
the head on the fulcrum to see
to drop everything that moves: unbreakable bodies
in silent films (wobbling
When will this inner night – the universe – end
And I – my soul – have my day?
When will I wake up from being awake?
I don’t know. The sun shines on high
And cannot be looked at.
The stars coldly blink
And cannot be counted.
The heart beats aloofly
And cannot be heard.
When will this drama without theater
– Or this theater without drama – end
So that I can go home?
Where? How? When?
O cat staring at me with eyes of life, Who lurks in your depths?
It’s Him! It’s him!
Like Joshua he’ll order the sun to stop, and I’ll wake up,
And it will be day.
Smile, my soul, in your slumber!
Smile, my soul: it will be day!
~ Fernando Pessoa
O pointy birds
o pointy pointy
anoint my head
Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.
There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames,
its arms turning like a drowning man’s.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that smell like the sea or the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.
Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.
The night gallops on its shadowy mare
shedding blue tassels over the land.
- Pablo Neruda
Ah yes, he was famed for love poems, and reminds me of Il Postino- Philippe Noiret looked like Neruda
If we have plenty of something here, it is excellent poets. Just an example:
The Road to Babel
Translated by Michael L. Smith
A soul yes a soul that wandered through cities
dressed like a dog and like a man
a soul of a dodo (wandering bird
in the habit of nesting in rough weather
at the very moment of catastrophes
and great migrations)
bird of the metropolis
bird of the kitchen
blue dregs of the morning that interrupt our nocturnal meditations
a sudden an unexpected an imperative crowing
of a scrawny solar bird perched in the morning tree
that distills instant coffee
and anxiety (golden bile bitter conscience
automatic absence of god
eminence of the alien delimiting look
and loving orphanhood)
“if I could find a soul like mine”
That does not exist
but the sweet and apocalyptic sing-song does
announced of the atavistic swaying
over the hold and the quagmire
and the startled sleeping flesh
pursued sea imprisoned sea sea wearing
7 colors 7 colors 7
body of 7 days and 7 nights
that are one
white chameleon consumed in the fire of 7 capital tongues
body shore of all the bodies
staff of 7 exact notes
repeated constant invariable
until the consummation of time itself
1 stop the flowered ship
2 dip your hand in the current
3 ask yourself
4 answer for the others
5 bear your chest
6 give from your sea to the thirsty
But it so happens that spring came and we decided to pull
down roofs and walls. Place, place for heaven, for its designs.
We slept with the animals, in the open field. Together
one over the other, one in the other.
Infinite solitude of love under full light.
An I woke up the next morning with his head between my shoulders,
blind through his eyes. Bianca, alucinatta tutta.
To Caesar what is his and to heaven the back shaken
by love and fear and tedium and hope, etc.
Spring flashed by at full steam. Whistling.
The house was intact tidied by its habitual ghosts.
Father in the place of the father, mother in the place
of the mother and chaos boiling in the cracked white family
soup pot until further request.
It also happened that
exhausted the comedians
withdrew as far as death.
And the circus tents were knocked down before
the relentless wind
of daily reality.
And if they ask me I’ll say that I’ve forgotten everything
that I was never there
that I have weighter country or memories
nor time available for time
I am awakened by a gaze
that avidly swallows the darkness
and that those blue eyes are the remains of some light
remains of some shipwreck
signs of desire
and the agony of desire
and that we
the poets the forgetful the sad
the survivors of life
don’t fall into the trap so easily
past present and future
are our body
across without the gratifying ecstasy of calvary
and there is no other way out
but the emergency exit that leads us
to the maddening wolfpack of our dreams
we or the
riddle joker coin lost in the air.
Lukewarm, trembling, unborn
without ancestor or offspring
(here a break in the workday, your choice: a military march, a sip of any drink (preferably beer), any physical necessity done out in the open, cigarettes, abandon, chewing gum)
And when now on vertigo’s floor
like a turtledove with sweet red eyes you brood
rocking on the creaking scaffold
what could matter to you?
Nothing touches you
Neither the cloud charged with the electric spring
that you envied not long ago
nor the satinized obsessive memory
of the breast that bewitched you from a distance
nor the street hawking
of whoring fortune that invited you to dance
a few nights of prowling
Fed up with swindles and miracles
with rehearsing the trapeze act until the paralysis
of the beginning of each day
with having swallowed the frog with the soup
the fog of pure nausea, practical nausea
Now you have nothing left
of your fairy gifts
But your melancholic hiccup
and your small black navel
that still can’t be erased
center of the world center of chaos and eternity
like th lines of your hands
through which immemorial rivers flow
like the only warp of reality
gold of tears and disgust of gold
and your tongue of a thousand betrayals
toll for the paradise of the alien mouth
closed and extremely sweet
like a date or an olive
As in the coplets of the blind
there is a stubborn mist of eternity and misery
Help me purest mantra
adicity of the esophagus and the pylorus
If you strike your head countless times against the impossible
you become the impossible
the other side
he who arrives
he who leaves
he who understands the unspeakable
the saint in the desert that swallows his tongue
he who is born again forcing his mother’s mother
the swimmer against the current
he who ascends from sea to river
from river to sky
from sky to light
from light to nothingness
In its infancy, slam poetry was held in disdain by academic and elite poets, largely because anyone could sign up to participate in a performance or competition. In addition, work was not published and marketed in journals and books, the traditional method of earning credibility as a poet. However, slam poetry’s appeal began to grow beyond the café reading and competition scene and into academia, as both traditional poets and scholars recognized the social relevance and artistic challenge of slam.
Performance Poetry (Slam) notables 2008-2010
Slam New Orleans
Looking forward to James Franco and the Poetry of Allen Ginsberg in “Howl”
Anyone care to post samples of Slam Poetry from anywhere else in the world?
The nadir celebrated (1971)
In the bloody heat of the sties
who dares read?
And in the splintered field
of the setting sun,
at earth’s ebb
and sky’s flow,
who dares set off – anywhere?
stand still, eyes closed,
at the nadir,
at the point where
there will always be a last flailing wave,
a beautiful face, or even
a single hand, nod, movement of the hand?
ease himself into sleep
with a satisfied heart,
into sleep that splashes beyond
the bitterness of childhood
and lifts the sea to his face
like a fistful of water?
Sometimes with one I love
I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn’d love
But now I think that there is no unreturn’d love
The pay is certain one way or another
I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not return’d
Yet out of that, I have written these songs
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
No one attended, as you ‘ve seen, your last
Chimera’s awe-inspiring funeral.
Ingratitude — that panther — has been all
Your company, but it has been steadfast!
Get used to mud: soon it will hold you fast!
Man living among wild beasts on this foul
And sordid earth cannot resist the call
To turn himself as well into a beast.
Here, take a match. Now light your cigarette!
A kiss is but the eve of being spat,
A stroking hand, my friend, may stone you too.
If your great wound still saddens anyone,
Cast at that vile hand stroking you a stone,
Spit straight into the mouth that kisses you!
Augusto dos Anjos
When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pause,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.
Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.
Those hundred lovers
are asleep forever
beneath the dry earth.
long, red-colored roads.
Córdoba, green olive trees
for placing a hundred crosses
to remember them.
Those hundred lovers
are asleep forever.
Appeal to the Grammarians
by Paul Violi
We, the naturally hopeful,
Need a simple sign
For the myriad ways we’re capsized.
We who love precise language
Need a finer way to convey
Disappointment and perplexity.
For speechlessness and all its inflections,
For up-ended expectations,
For every time we’re ambushed
By trivial or stupefying irony,
For pure incredulity, we need
The inverted exclamation point.
For the dropped smile, the limp handshake,
For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift
Or taken the first sip of a flat beer,
Or felt love or pond ice
Give way underfoot, we deserve it.
We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,
The child whose ball doesn’t bounce back,
The flat tire at journey’s outset,
The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.
But mainly because I need it—here and now
As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio
Staring at my espresso and cannoli
After this middle-aged couple
Came strolling by and he suddenly
Veered and sneezed all over my table
And she said to him, “See, that’s why
I don’t like to eat outside.”
La cólera que quiebra al hombre en niños,
que quiebra al niño en pájaros iguales,
y al pájaro, después, en huevecillos;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un aceite contra dos vinagres.
La cólera que al árbol quiebra en hojas,
a la hoja en botones desiguales
y al botón, en ranuras telescópicas;
la cólera del pobre
tiene dos ríos contra muchos mares.
La cólera que quiebra al bien en dudas,
a la duda, en tres arcos semejantes
y al arco, luego, en tumbas imprevistas;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un acero contra dos puñales.
La cólera que quiebra al alma en cuerpos,
al cuerpo en órganos desemejantes
y al órgano, en octavos pensamientos;
la cólera del pobre
tiene un fuego central contra dos cráteres.
The anger that rends the man into children,
that rends the child into equal birds,
and then the bird into small eggs;
the anger of the poor
has one oil against two vinegars.
The anger that rends the tree into leaves,
the leaf into unequal buds
and the bud into telescopic slots;
the anger of the poor
has two rivers against many oceans.
The anger that rends goodness into doubts,
a doubt into three equal arcs
and then the arc into unpredicated graves;
the anger of the poor
has one steel against two daggers.
The anger that rends the soul into bodies,
the body into unequal organs
and the organ into eighth thoughts;
the anger of the poor
has one central fire against two craters.
— César Vallejo tr. M Smith
@ Surrealist Gesture… pointy birds, genius… that made me smile
here is one of my favorite Bukowski poems entitled Genius of the Crowd
there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day
and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace
those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach love do not have love
beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect
like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
their finest art
consummation of grief
I even hear the mountains
the way they laugh
up and down their blue sides
and down in the water
the fish cry
and the water
is their tears.
I listen to the water
on nights I drink away
and the sadness becomes so great
I hear it in my clock
it becomes knobs upon my dresser
it becomes paper on the floor
it becomes a shoehorn
a laundry ticket
climbing a chapel of dark vines. . .
it matters little
very little love is not so bad
or very little life
is waiting on walls
I was born for this
I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.
For the Last Wolverine
by James L. Dickey
They will soon be down
To one, but he still will be
For a little while still will be stopping
The flakes in the air with a look,
Surrounding himself with the silence
Of whitening snarls. Let him eat
The last red meal of the condemned
To extinction, tearing the guts
From an elk. Yet that is not enough
For me. I would have him eat
The heart, and from it, have an idea
Stream into his gnarling head
That he no longer has a thing
To lose, and so can walk
Out into the open, in the full
Pale of the sub-Arctic sun
Where a single spruce tree is dying
Higher and higher. Let him climb it
With all his meanness and strength.
Lord, we have come to the end
Of this kind of vision of heaven,
As the sky breaks open
Its fans around him and shimmers
And into its northern gates he rises
Snarling complete in the joy of a weasel
With an elk’s horned heart in his stomach
Looking straight into the eternal
Blue, where he hauls his kind. I would have it all
My way: at the top of that tree I place
The New World’s last eagle
Hunched in mangy feathers giving
Up on the theory of flight.
Dear God of the wildness of poetry, let them mate
To the death in the rotten branches,
Let the tree sway and burst into flame
And mingle them, crackling with feathers,
In crownfire. Let something come
Of it something gigantic legendary
Rise beyond reason over hills
Of ice screaming that it cannot die,
That it has come back, this time
On wings, and will spare no earthly thing:
That it will hover, made purely of northern
Lights, at dusk and fall
On men building roads: will perch
On the moose’s horn like a falcon
Riding into battle into holy war against
Screaming railroad crews: will pull
Whole traplines like fibres from the snow
In the long-jawed night of fur trappers.
But, small, filthy, unwinged,
You will soon be crouching
Alone, with maybe some dim racial notion
Of being the last, but none of how much
Your unnoticed going will mean:
How much the timid poem needs
The mindless explosion of your rage,
The glutton’s internal fire the elk’s
Heart in the belly, sprouting wings,
The pact of the “blind swallowing
Thing,” with himself, to eat
The world, and not to be driven off it
Until it is gone, even if it takes
Forever. I take you as you are
And make of you what I will,
Skunk-bear, carcajoy, bloodthirsty
Lord, let me die but not die
A sea, sea rider from Trout Fishing in America is one of the best things I’ve ever read as well. Hehe
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
~ Charles Simic ~
A mermaid found a swimming lad
Picked him for her own
Pressed her body to his body
Laughed;and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.
Mermaid by W.B. Yeats.
A noirish kind of poem:
St. Agnes’ Eve
The dramatis personae include a fly-specked Monday evening,
A cigar store with stagnant windows,
Two crooked streets,
Six policemen and Louie Glatz.
Bass drums mumble and mutter an ominous portent
As Louie Glatz holds up the cigar store and backs out with
Officer Dolan noticed something suspicious, it is supposed,
And ordered him to halt,
But dangerous, handsome, cross-eye’d Louie the rat
Spoke with his gat,
And Dolan was buried as quickly as possible.
But Louie didn’t give a good god damn,
He ran like a crazy shadow on a shadowy street
With five policemen off that beat
Hot on his trail, going Blam! Blam
Said Louie’s gat,
So loud that Peter Wendotti rolled away from his wife,
Got out of bed to scratch his stomach and shiver on the cold floor
Listening to the stammering syllables of instant death
Met on secret floors in the big vacant galleries of night.
Then Louie sagged and fell and ran.
With seven bullets through his caved-in skull and those feeble brains
Spilling out like soup.
He crawled behind a water-hydrant and stood them off another half minute.
“I’m not shot,” he yelled, “I’m not shot,” he screamed, “it isn’t me they’ve shot in the head,” he laughed, “Oh
I don’t give a damn!”
Muttered the gat
Of Louie the rat,
While the officers of the law went Blam! Blam
Soft music. Violins moan like weeds swaying far under water.
The vibrant throats of steam-ships hoot a sad defiance at distance and nothing.
Space curls its arm across the flat roofs and dreary streets.
Bricks bulge and sag.
Louie’s soul arose through his mouth in the form of a derby hat
That danced with cigarette butts and burned matches and specks of dust
Where Louie sprawled.
Close-up of Dolan’s widow. Of Louie’s mother.
Picture of the fly-specked Monday evening and fade out slow.
ELEVATED SELF ESTEEM AS A RESULT OF ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
BY MEGAN BOYLE
i want to go to the gym
and pretend the weight machines are drums
and play the longest drum solo on them
everyone will stop working out
to look at me
gradually, a crowd will gather
people will nod their heads
and whisper to each other
‘what is she doing?’
‘i don’t know, but i like it’
I always tell them:
“Quite well, thank you, I’m very glad to say.”
If people ask me,
I always answer,
“Quite well, thank you, how are you to-day?”
I always answer,
I always tell them,
If they ask me
That they wouldn’t.
Alan Alexander Milne
Two from Ted Hughes
He loved her and she loved him
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains
Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment’s brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin’s attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon’s gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
Her vows put his eyes in formalin
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall
Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop
In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage
In the morning they wore each other’s face
The licensed clown – chak chak!
With no proper part in the play –
Puts his remark in each scene.
Standing on presage, in duplicate, in triplicate,
A laundered puffball,
A sky-skiff, with his one oar.
At every picture’s edge, on the top twig,
He watches. He dozes. Working for fate.
Quick-eyed Mercury, the go-between -
A rattling laugh at the world’s blind weight,
A pilfering gleam on its oversights –
These are his perks.
In his whites, his innocence of colour,
In his blacks, infra and ultra,
He struts across the tragic rainbow.
Between caterpillar and diamond.
Going Blind – Rainer Maria Rilke
She sat just like the others at tea.
At first it was as if she held her cup
a little differently from the rest.
She gave a smile. It almost hurt.
And when the time came to rise and talk
and slowly, in no special order,
pass through many rooms (talking and laughing),
then I saw her. She came behind the others,
seeming subdued, like someone who soon
will have to sing before many people;
on her pale eyes full of joy,
light fell from outside, as on a pond.
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though something hadn’t yet been surmounted;
and yet: as though, as soon as she was past it,
she would no longer walk, but fly.
Untitled by Karl Pilkington
For God’s sake, me belly ache
The doctor said it’s me kidney.
He said he’s got to stick a tube up me knob
I said you got to be kidding me.
For God’ sake, knob ache.