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#poetry

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

– Happy birthday, Walt Whitman. SOUTH JERSEY FOREVER (via notnadia)

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

Poet MAYA ANGELOU, in her last post to Twitter, dated May 23.  She would die less than a week later.

A Rock, A River, A TreeHosts to species long since departed,Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokensOf their sojourn hereOn our planet floor,Any broad alarm of their hastening doomIs lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,Come, you may stand upon myBack and face your distant destiny,But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower thanThe angels, have crouched too long inThe bruising darkness,Have lain too longFace down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling wordsArmed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,A River sings a beautiful song,Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,Delicate and strangely made proud,Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profitHave left collars of waste uponMy shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songsThe Creator gave to me when I and theTree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across yourBrow and when you yet knew you stillKnew nothing.
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond toThe singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the JewThe African and Native American, the Sioux,The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the GreekThe Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.They hear. They all hearThe speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every TreeSpeaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passedOn traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, youPawnee, Apache and Seneca, youCherokee Nation, who rested with me, thenForced on bloody feet, left me to the employment ofOther seekers—desperate for gain,Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, boughtSold, stolen, arriving on a nightmarePraying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the TreeI am yours—your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing needFor this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,Cannot be unlived, and if facedWith courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes uponThe day breaking for you.
Give birth againTo the dream.
Women, children, men,Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your mostPrivate need. Sculpt it intoThe image of your most public self.Lift up your heartsEach new hour holds new chancesFor new beginnings.
Do not be wedded foreverTo fear, yoked eternallyTo brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,Offering you space to place new steps of change.Here, on the pulse of this fine dayYou may have the courageTo look up and out upon me, theRock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new dayYou may have the grace to look up and outAnd into your sister’s eyes, intoYour brother’s face, your countryAnd say simplyVery simplyWith hopeGood morning.

— The 1993 Inaugural poem, "On The Pulse Of Morning," written by the late MAYA ANGELOU, who has died at the age of 86.

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers—desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours—your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

— The 1993 Inaugural poem, "On The Pulse Of Morning," written by the late MAYA ANGELOU, who has died at the age of 86.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

"Digging," by the late Nobel Prize-winning poet SEAMUS HEANEY.

(Via The Poetry Foundation; h/t NY Times)

theparisreview:

I’ll never be as handsome as my father,singing Vivaldi, when he’s seventy-five,beneath gold domes or strolling by the water.
The choir will go to Harry’s Bar togetherafter the concert. The young tenors grieve:they’ll never be as handsome as my father.
There’s one they call my double. I bet he’d ratherhave my dad’s full head of hair and never leavegold domes, humped bridges and the rising water.
“Why don’t you join us? We could use anothervoice for the Gloria” But I believeI’d never hit the high notes like my father.
Gold domes glow like furnaces, the weatherheating up outside when singers movethrough the Piazza, thirsty for scotch and water.
Where’s the blown-glass mirror to show each otherwhat we both feaer, what we sing to disprove?I’ll never be as handsome as my fatheruntil our funeral gondolas hit the water.
—John Drury, “My Father Singing in the Basilica of San Marco”Photography via

theparisreview:

I’ll never be as handsome as my father,
singing Vivaldi, when he’s seventy-five,
beneath gold domes or strolling by the water.

The choir will go to Harry’s Bar together
after the concert. The young tenors grieve:
they’ll never be as handsome as my father.

There’s one they call my double. I bet he’d rather
have my dad’s full head of hair and never leave
gold domes, humped bridges and the rising water.

“Why don’t you join us? We could use another
voice for the Gloria” But I believe
I’d never hit the high notes like my father.

Gold domes glow like furnaces, the weather
heating up outside when singers move
through the Piazza, thirsty for scotch and water.

Where’s the blown-glass mirror to show each other
what we both feaer, what we sing to disprove?
I’ll never be as handsome as my father
until our funeral gondolas hit the water.

John Drury, “My Father Singing in the Basilica of San Marco”
Photography via

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay

RECUERDO  Commuters disembarked from the Staten Island Ferry in New York Monday. Transit was slowly returning to normal in New York, but many commuters endured long waits and packed trains one week after superstorm Sandy hit the area. (Photo: John Minchillo / AP via The Wall Street Journal)

RECUERDO  Commuters disembarked from the Staten Island Ferry in New York Monday. Transit was slowly returning to normal in New York, but many commuters endured long waits and packed trains one week after superstorm Sandy hit the area. (Photo: John Minchillo / AP via The Wall Street Journal)

Poem for bus.

50 
50 
minutes late
growing
growing
wee irate
lining
lining
up to wait
whining
whining
quite a state
tourists
tourists
walking, spry
feet hurt
feet hurt
will not cry
waiting
waiting
smoke in eye
fucking
fucking
bus.
come by.

"Mad Men"

  • GINSBERG (un-humblebragging): "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
  • RIZZO: You should read the rest of that poem, you boob.

“Some of the greatest poetry is revealing, to the reader, the beauty in something that is so simple, you had taken it for granted.”

Dr. NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON