Archive for July, 2007


Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sitting
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips

-Grace Paley

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The Baite

Come live with mee, and bee my love,
And wee will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and christall brookes,
With silken lines, and silver hookes.

There will the river whispering runne
Warm’d by thy eyes, more than the Sunne.
And there the’inamor’d fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swimme in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channell hath,
Will amorously to thee swimme,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seene, beest loath,
By Sunne, or Moone, thou darknest both,
And if my selfe have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legges, with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poore fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowie net:

Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,
Or curious traitors, sleavesilke flies
Bewitch poore fishes wandring eyes.

For thee, thou needst no such deceit,
For thou thy selfe art thine owne bait;
That fish, that is not catch’d thereby,
Alas, is wiser farre than I.

-John Donne

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The Long Line, Breton

We write because
We write because

It is expected of us
(as is love)

Listen, you conspirators
Armed with sheets
I’ve taken it all too literally
Wrapped in dummy blanket

Goethe never had a request
Like yours
He told himself what was enough

We write because
We write because
The sound within us so deep
Anchors and moors a big moon to it.
Gorgeous quest
That can never be completed
Take your stockings off
Let love be your animal.

-Nina Alvarez

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Pythagorean Silence (an excerpt)


age of earth and us all chattering

a sentence or character

steps out to seek for truth fails

into a stream of ink Sequence
trails off

must go on

waving fables and faces War
doings of the war

manoeuvering between points

any two points which is
what we want (issues at stake)

bearings and so

holes in a cloud are minutes passing
which is

view odds of images swept rag-tag

silver and grey

seconds forgeries engender
(are blue) or blacker

flocks of words flying together tense
as an order

cast off to crows

-Susan Howe

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If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master;

If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run–

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

-Rudyard Kipling

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The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

-W. H. Auden

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Eden Incunabulum

“As his unlikeness fitted mine”—

so his luciferous kiss, ecliptic : me
pinned beneath
lips bitten as under weight of prayer, Ave—but
no common vocative, no

paradise above, and we not beholden
to a name, not
to a local god banking fever blaze his seasonal malady
of flowers—nor to demi-urge

nor the lapsarian system’s glittering, how
later we spoke
between us of sacred and profane as if the numinous
could bring death—the only

system—to bear burn outside
and hang its glister wisdom and singe in the viridian wilt. Lilt,
to break salt in that sugar

where skin was no choice
and sanguine, not
blameless, though, Ave, I loved our words for want
beginning liquor, squander

sip and fizz : fuck, ferment
I loved
and bluebottles tippling windfall rot, bruises’ wicked wine
gone vinegar

beneath the taut brief glaze
of wings, but
it was not yet nameable, what we later called disease : script
brought us by the trick

snake’s fakey Beelzebubbery.
In the dirt
with his dictionary skin, tight skein of syllables knit by un-
numbered undulating

clicking ribs, the snake slunk
and stung
and spelled the dust with his tongue and tail and was nothing,
a black forked lisp

in the subfusc grass hued
blue as the blue
sky tipped its lip to ocean horizon and filled, hugest
amphora, and sank,

evening, Ave, I will tell you
now I loved it
all. That in his hot body there was something similar
to the idea of heat

which was in my mind,
that when we
alembic, lay together, we bequeathed the white
fixed earth beneath

ardent water and a season’s kept
blood, and I not
a rib of his, not further hurt in his marrow—for the idea
of death was in him,

the only system—and we lay together
in the field
that was not yet page, not begun with A—, not alpha nor
apple, not Ave, not yet

because what we knew was
the least of it
then. It was difficult to sleep with the love of words gone
gospel between my thighs

where nightly he’d jack
the pulpit, Ave
Corpus, Ave Numen, gnosis and throb unalphabetical,
I will tell you

I loved it all, fastest brushfires
and dryburns
his body’s doublecross, garden lost to loss, incurable
season : wilt, lilt : singe,

our song. And the snake,
lumen skin
of alphabets, rubbing his stomach in the dust until his tin
eyes filled with milk,

his slack skin flickered and split
and new
black sinew out of the slough dead lettered vellum
legless crept and let fall wept

whisper, hiss, paperhush :
with the skin
language left behind I bind time to memorial : Book of Our
Garden Hours, illuminated

bloom : Here a gilt script singe sings of heat

split in its leaves,

and the bee gives suck to the book : Ave Incunabulum, love’s

first work : Ave,

In Memoriam—

[ J—5/99 ]

-Brian Teare

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