delicious ambiguity : gilda radner

i wanted a perfect ending. now i’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. delicious ambiguity.

— gilda radner

poem today : It Is a Living Coral, William Carlos Williams

a trouble

archaically fettered
to produce

E Pluribus Unum an
island

in the sea a Capitol
surmounted

by Armed Liberty—
painting

sculpture straddled by
a dome

eight million pounds
in weight

iron plates constructed
to expand

and contract with
variations

of temperature
the folding

and unfolding of a lily.
And Congress

authorized and the
Commission

was entrusted was
entrusted!

a sculptured group
Mars

in Roman mail placing
a wreath

of laurel on the brow
of Washington

Commerce Minerva
Thomas

Jefferson John Hancock
at

the table Mrs. Motte
presenting

Indian burning arrows
to Generals

Marion and Lee to fire
her mansion

and dislodge the British—
this scaleless

jumble is superb

and accurate in its
expression

of the thing they
would destroy—

Baptism of Poca-
hontas

with a little card
hanging

under it to tell
the persons

in the picture.

It climbs

it runs, it is Geo.
Shoup

of Idaho it wears
a beard

it fetches naked
Indian

women from a river
Trumbull

Varnum Henderson
Frances

Willard’s corset is
absurd—

Banks White Columbus
stretched

in bed men felling trees

The Hon. Michael
C. Kerr

onetime Speaker of
the House

of Representatives
Perry

in a rowboat on Lake
Erie

changing ships the
dead

among the wreckage
sickly green

poem today : Blizzard, William Carlos Williams

Snow:
years of anger following
hours that float idly down —
the blizzard
drifts its weight
deeper and deeper for three days
or sixty years, eh? Then
the sun! a clutter of
yellow and blue flakes —
Hairy looking trees stand out
in long alleys
over a wild solitude.
The man turns and there —
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.

 

 

 

James Joyce, the beauty of words

It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

– the end of The Dead, by James Joyce

poem today : turtle, kay ryan

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
She can ill afford the chances she must take
In rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
A packing-case places, and almost any slope
Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
She’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
To something edible. With everything optimal,
She skirts the ditch which would convert
Her shell into a serving dish. She lives
Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
Will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
The sport of truly chastened things.

poem today : In the Gallery of the Ordinary

In their excess, their blowsy dreaming
and King Solomon-like tempers, the clouds
possess the grandeur of eighteenth-century oils,

when a painter earned his profession
as an anatomist. Those artists of verdigris
and gamboge, too gorged on joy, perhaps,

treated that blank pasture of the “heavens”
like something that had lived.
Their crawly undoings remind us

of the mean curiosities of sheep, the sea’s
half-remembered boil, or a few twisted bolls
of cotton—the morning phosphorescent

or sunset a dull, worn-out gilt.
The nights there were scumbled with light.
How could we ever have taken them

for the abstinence of art?

by William Logan

poem today : true love, nate klug

Off rows of windshields
in the Amtrak lot
rain in sudden
clumps like jacks. Parked cars
with people in them
awaiting people they imagine
hurtling through suburbs
of silver woods
awaiting them. True
love needs interference,
a certain blizzard distance,
for the words to worm through.
Remember Iowa?
August storms that would self-spark
as if our fights could trip
the finest wire beneath the sidewalk.
And the sunlight, harder after.

A feminist of the second wave.

I just finished reading A Feminist Till I Die by Arshia Sattar
It is a strange thing to be old enough to remember when there was a woman’s movement. Not little undulations but a wave that rose and washed down on my generation.

Reading the words of Arshia Sattar made my heart beat faster. It helped me te realize that I too will be a feminist till I die. How can I be anything else. When “many men want to believe that feminism has lived its life, that it’s had its day, that women really need to move on—either because we’ve got all we were asking for or because we’re never really going to get it anyway.”

I am a product of the second wave.

What then of the third wave? Will it find solidarity with my generation while remaining dynamic and responding to new circumstances? I will happily be swept up into the third wave just call on me. I will hear my sisters.

Poem Today : In Memory of Radio

by Amiri Baraka

Who has ever stopped to think of the divinity of Lamont Cranston?
(Only jack Kerouac, that I know of: & me.
The rest of you probably had on WCBS and Kate Smith,
Or something equally unattractive.)

What can I say?
It is better to haved loved and lost
Than to put linoleum in your living rooms?

Am I a sage or something?
Mandrake’s hypnotic gesture of the week?
(Remember, I do not have the healing powers of Oral Roberts…
I cannot, like F. J. Sheen, tell you how to get saved & rich!
I cannot even order you to the gaschamber satori like Hitler or Goddy Knight)

& love is an evil word.
Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean?
An evol word. & besides
who understands it?
I certainly wouldn’t like to go out on that kind of limb.

Saturday mornings we listened to the Red Lantern & his undersea folk.
At 11, Let’s Pretend
& we did
& I, the poet, still do. Thank God!

What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe
& invisible & the unbelievers couldn’t throw stones?) “Heh, heh, heh.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

O, yes he does
O, yes he does
An evil word it is,
This Love.

Poem Today : Fever 103°

Pure? What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright

One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel,
Such yellow sullen smokes
Make their own element. They will not rise,

But trundle round the globe
Choking the aged and the meek,
The weak

Hothouse baby in its crib,
The ghastly orchid
Hanging its hanging garden in the air,

Devilish leopard!
Radiation turned it white
And killed it in an hour.

Greasing the bodies of adulterers
Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.
The sin. The sin.

Darling, all night
I have been flickering, off, on, off, on.
The sheets grow heavy as a lecher’s kiss.

Three days. Three nights.
Lemon water, chicken
Water, water make me retch.

I am too pure for you or anyone.
Your body
Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern——

My head a moon
Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

Does not my heat astound you! And my light!
All by myself I am a huge camellia
Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush.

I think I am going up,
I think I may rise——
The beads of hot metal fly, and I love, I

Am a pure acetylene
Virgin
Attended by roses,

By kisses, by cherubim,
By whatever these pink things mean!
Not you, nor him

Nor him, nor him
(My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)——
To Paradise.
Sylvia Plath, “Fever 103°” from The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes. Copyright © 1966 and renewed 1994 by Ted Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Source: Poetry (August 1963).