A Poem A Day

The Dream Keeper

by Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

In Landscape

by Buddy Wakefield

There is a chance
you will show up laughing
made of fortified fan blades and Ferris wheel lights
true of heart and best foot forward
our long-awaited love made easy,
remember for sure no doubt these things:

The joy,
we are a point of complete.
This life,
standing guard over your solitude.
My eyes
are monsters for most things approaching.
I’m probably gonna need a hand with that.
This heart.
This sleeve.
Neither one of them things is all that clean.
But the rain,
my lucky number,
been doin’ her part to make things right

for the light bulbs
and the bruises.
Hiding holy water was not my forte this life.
Forte
is French
for blanket fort.
I have trusted my corners to revolving doors
but am fluent in getting better.
We are fluent in bouncing back,
lifting quickly,
learning fast.

Our courage
is a natural habitat.
Ya know we’re gonna build a body to keep the wolves out.
Hold my house
you humble barbarian,
this door only opens for the remarkable now.

So we will both show up remarkable.
Speak your piece from the I can do anything.
Say it clearly.
Follow through

on runways,
in turbulence.
There is a book
living inside your chest
with dilated instructions
on how to make a safe landing.
It was written
for crash landers.
Thank you.
I am coming home to listen.

It is time.

Please
forgive me my distractions.
There’s a freckle on your lip.
It is a national archive.
Give it to my ear
so you can see what I mean.
Here hold my breath
I will be right back.

There are gifts
hidden beneath these lungs.
Slide your hand over my mouth
and I will speak them
in hang glider,
in hilltop,
from the loyalty of a landscape,
silk in a sandpaper offering plate,
the jacket on a handsome man.
That lip
Sweet Grape, you cannibal,
kiss my eyes
until they see what it is that I wish to write down:

Your name.

Film strips of prayer.
Ribbons of a garden in stereo.
Driftwood welded to the guesthouse.
Ringfinger wrapped in a horseshoe nail.
I will meet you by the eighth day dream
in the wide open purpose of a locomotive coming
to a stand still with the sea,
like thumb

on pulse

you watch

what happens

when the air

erupts

into suction cups
opening up to breathe,
like the love in my lungs
took the tip of my tongue
and finally taught it how to read,
you five-acre ladder-backed pearl book pouring
from a pileated chest of Earth.
I know our story may look like octopus ink
to the rest of the breath in this world
(flying in under the radar
holding to a pattern of worth).
Come closer you guest of honor.
Chickens stay off the porch

in quiet,
in kindly.
We are the house gift-wrapped in welcome mats.
Your dinner’s on the table in thanks of that
and the loaves of chocolate toast,
the Book of Job and of Jet Propulsion,
raincoats floating in a rocket ship,
playing naked checkers in bed.
It is an utterly epic arrival
every time I get to see you again.

God, this is what I was talking about
for like 37 years,
a true story,
of oceanthroat,
of grace,
the holy goodness glory
I was praying to your face,
My Man,
this
is what I meant
and this is what I’m meant to do
so sit me down inside us now
and let me praise the greatest good in you
by laying down my weapons
including the shield,
in rest,
inception,

on cue, my friend,
you came
your name
well lit,
stenciled on the walls of Fremont County
years before we even met
in landscape,
in scope
and so,
wing tipped,
I wrote it
down to the ground you walk on
with the heels of my helium shoes,
“Put your ear to the sky
and listen my darling,
everything whispers I love you.”

(Source: usedfurniturereview.com)

The Ivy Crown

by William Carlos Williams

The whole process is a lie,
unless,
crowned by excess,
It break forcefully,
one way or another,
from its confinement—
or find a deeper well.
Antony and Cleopatra
were right;
they have shown
the way. I love you
or I do not live
at all.

Daffodil time
is past. This is
summer, summer!
the heart says,
and not even the full of it.
No doubts
are permitted—
though they will come
and may
before our time
overwhelm us.
We are only mortal
but being mortal
can defy our fate.
We may
by an outside chance
even win! We do not
look to see
jonquils and violets
come again
but there are,
still,
the roses!

Romance has no part in it.
The business of love is
cruelty which,
by our wills,
we transform
to live together.
It has its seasons,
for and against,
whatever the heart
fumbles in the dark
to assert
toward the end of May.
Just as the nature of briars
is to tear flesh,
I have proceeded
through them.
Keep
the briars out,
they say.
You cannot live
and keep free of
briars.

Children pick flowers.
Let them.
Though having them
in hand
they have no further use for them
but leave them crumpled
at the curb’s edge.

At our age the imagination
across the sorry facts
lifts us
to make roses
stand before thorns.
Sure
love is cruel
and selfish
and totally obtuse—
at least, blinded by the light,
young love is.
But we are older,
I to love
and you to be loved,
we have,
no matter how,
by our wills survived
to keep
the jeweled prize
always
at our finger tips.
We will it so
and so it is
past all accident.

Dove Sta Amore

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Dove sta amore
Where lies love
Dove sta amore
Here lies love
The ring dove love
In lyrical delight
Hear love’s hillsong
Love’s true willsong
Love’s low plainsong
Too sweet painsong
In passages of night
Dove sta amore
Here lies love
The ring dove love
Dove sta amore
Here lies love

Famous Last Words

by Robert Phillips

for Dana Gioia

"It has all been very interesting!"
declared Lady Mary Wortley Montague.
Examining his sickroom, Oscar Wilde railed,
“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
Told the angels were waiting for him,
Ethan Allen quipped, “Let ‘em wait.”
"I am so very happy," Gerard Manley Hopkins cooed.
Goethe pleaded for “More light, more light.”

Madame de Pompadour cried out to God,
“Wait a minute!” rouged her cheeks red.
"I suppose I am turning into a god?"
The dying Emperor Vespasian said.
Henry James, succumbing to a massive stroke,
“So it has come … The Distinguished Thing.”
Pancho Villa pleaded, “Don’t let it end
like this. Tell ‘em I said something.”

Gertrude to Alice B.: “What is the answer?”
[Silence] “In that case, what is the question?”
"If this is dying, I don’t think much of it,"
Muttered Lytton Strachey. When undone,
Julius Caesar managed, “Et tu, Brute?”
Edmund Kean: “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”
Chekhov: “It’s been so long since I’ve had champagne.”
Goethe: “More light, more light,” then departed.

Madhushala (The Tavern)

by Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Seeking wine, the drinker leaves home for the tavern.
Perplexed, he asks, “Which path will take me there?”
People show him different ways, but this is what I have to say,
"Pick a path and keep walking. You will find the tavern."

Hark! The wine gurgles and splashes as it falls from the goblet.
Hark! It sounds like the tinkling of bells on the feet of an intoxicated girl.
We have reached there, a few steps are we from the tavern,
Hark! Hear the laughter of the drinkers, as the fragrance of the tavern wafts through the air.

Call it not lava, though it flows red, like a tongue of flame.
Call it not the blistered heart, for it is only foaming wine.
Lost memories serve the wine, that intoxicates with pain.
If you find happiness in suffering, come to my tavern.

He who has burnt all scriptures with his inner fire,
Has broken temples, mosques and churches with carefree abandon,
And has cut the nooses of pandits, mullahs and priests—
Only he is welcome in my tavern.

Alas, he that with eager lips, has not kissed this wine,
Alas, he that trembling with joy, has not touched a brimming goblet,
He that has not drawn close the coy wine-maiden by her hand,
Has wasted this honey-filled tavern of Life.

My beloved wine-maiden seems a priest; her wine as pure as the Ganga’s waters.
With unbroken pace, she rotates the rosary of wine glasses.
"Drink more! Drink more!" she intones in prayer.
I am Shiva incarnate and this tavern is my temple.

Only once every year, the fires of Holi are lit.
Only once is the game played and are garlands of lamps lit.
But, O, those who are lost in the world, come and see the tavern any day,
The tavern celebrates a Holi, every morning and a Diwali every night.

Whatever the taste on my lips, it tastes like wine.
Whatever the vessel in my hands, it feels like a goblet.
Every face dissolves into the features of my wine-maiden,
And whatever be in front of my eyes, they fill only with visions of the tavern.

Ah, Beautiful, your lovely face is like a crystal bowl,
Whose precious gem is your beauty, sparkling like sweet, intoxicating wine.
I am the wine-maiden and I am the guest.
Where sit we together, there indeed is the tavern.

A mere two days she served me but the young maiden is sulking now.
She fills my goblet and passes it curtly to me.
Her coquetry and charms are lost arts;
All the tavern wishes now is to fulfill its obligations.

Life is short. How much love can I give and how much can I drink?
They say, “He departs,” at the very moment that he is born.
While he is being welcomed, I have seen his farewell being prepared.
They started closing the shutters of the tavern, as soon as they were raised.

O maiden! Which burning heart has been pacified by drinking?
Every drinker repeats only one chant, “More! More!”
Seeking satisfaction, he leaves behind so many desires.
Of how many such hopes is this tavern a tomb?

Yama will come as the wine-maiden and bring his black wine,
Drink, and know no more consciousness, O carefree one.
This is the ultimate trance, the ultimate wine-maiden and the ultimate goblet.
O traveler, drink judiciously, for you will never find the tavern again.

Each day, O companion, spills more wine from my life.
Each day, O fortunate one, this goblet, my body, is burnt.
Each day, O lovely woman, this wine-maiden, my youth, distances itself from me.
Each day, O beauty, this tavern, my Life, is drying up.

When from the earthen jar of my body, the wine of life is emptied,
When the final wine-maiden comes with her bowl of poison,
When my hand forgets the touch of the goblet, and my lips the taste of wine,
Whisper in my ears, “the wine, the goblet, the tavern!”

Touch not my lips with tulasi, but with the goblet, when I die.
Touch not my tongue with the Ganga’s waters, but with wine, when I die.
When you bear my corpse, pallbearers, remember this!
Call not the name of God, but call to the truth that is the tavern.

Weep over my corpse, if you can weep tears of wine.
Sigh dejectedly for me, if you are intoxicated and carefree.
Bear me on your shoulders, if you stumble drunkenly along.
Cremate me on that land, where there once was a tavern.

Pour on my ashes, not ghee, but wine.
Tie to a vine of grapes, not a waterpot, but a wine-goblet.
And when, my darling, you must call guests for the ritual feast,
Do this—call those who will drink and have the tavern opened for them.

If anyone asks my name, say it was, “The Drunkard”.
My work? I drank and passed the goblet to everyone.
O Beloved, if they ask my caste, say only that I was mad.
Say my religion worshiped goblets and then chant with your rosary, “The tavern, the tavern!”

O son, raise not water at my final rites, but wine in your palms.
And sit somewhere, having filled the Ganga with wine.
If you can wet the earth somewhere, my soul will be satisfied.
Offer your libations to your ancestral spirits by reading repeatedly, “The tavern, the tavern.”

I Keep in My Empire

by Anne Boyer

I keep in my heart the great spoils of the empire I keep in my empire   the spoils of my heart I keep in my heart the great looting
      of the empire I keep my heart in this machine

It’s great
to keep my empire in a computer
made of hearts I keep in my machine

I keep the detectable and undetectable contaminants of the empire
the green and the ungreen
my love and technology
and the technology of my common heart

I keep in my empire my justice and my vulnerable feelings

I keep it in word docs, emails, PDFs
   and in books

I keep it in bodies and in my garage that great empire
for something
my common empire
and vulnerable feelings

The Morning After

by Ellen Bass

You stand at the counter, pouring boiling water
over the French roast, oily perfume rising in smoke.
And when I enter, you don’t look up.
You’re hurrying to pack your lunch, snapping
the lids on little plastic boxes while you call your mother
to tell her you’ll take her to the doctor.
I can’t see a trace of the little slice of heaven
we slipped into last night—a silk kimono
floating satin ponds and copper koi, stars falling
to the water. Didn’t we shoulder
our way through the cleft in the rock of the everyday
and tear up the grass in the pasture of pleasure?
If the soul isn’t a separate vessel
we carry from form to form,
but more like Aristotle’s breath of life–
the work of the body that keeps it whole–
then last night, darling, our souls were busy.
But this morning, it’s like you’re wearing a bad wig,
disguised so I won’t recognize you
or maybe so you won’t know yourself
as that animal burned down
to pure desire. I don’t know
how you do it. I want to throw myself
onto the kitchen tile and bare my throat.
I want to slick back my hair
and tap dance up the wall. I want to do it all
all over again–dive back into that brawl,
that raw and radiant free-for-all.
But you are scribbling a shopping list
because the kids are coming for the weekend
and you’re going to make your special crab cakes
that have ruined me for all other crab cakes
forever.

(Source: ellenbass.com)

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

by Wilfred Owen

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Marriage

by Gregory Corso

Should I get married? Should I be good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
Don’t take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
and she going just so far and I understanding why
not getting angry saying You must feel! It’s beautiful to feel!
Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky-

When she introduces me to her parents
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
should I sit with my knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
and not ask Where’s the bathroom?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap-
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?

Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we’re losing a daughter
but we’re gaining a son-
And should I then ask Where’s the bathroom?

O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just wait to get at the drinks and food-
And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She’s all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on-
Then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
Everybody knowing! I’d almost be inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
running rampant into those almost climactic suites
yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
O I’d live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
I’d sit there the Mad Honeymooner
devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
a saint of divorce-

But I should get married I should be good
How nice it’d be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I’d make! Yes, I should get married!
So much to do! Like sneaking into Mr Jones’ house late at night
and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
When are you going to stop people killing whales!
And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-

Yes if I should get married and it’s Connecticut and snow
and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear nor Roman coin soup-
O what would that be like!
Surely I’d give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
For a rattle a bag of broken Bach records
Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon

No, I doubt I’d be that kind of father
Not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly tight New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
The landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking-
No! I should not get married! I should never get married!
But-imagine if I were married to a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and a highball in the other
and we lived high up in a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No, can’t imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream-

O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
It’s just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes-
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
And there’s maybe a girl now but she’s already married
And I don’t like men and-
But there’s got to be somebody!
Because what if I’m 60 years old and not married,
all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!

Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
then marriage would be possible-
Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
so i wait-bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.