Jamie (Internet remix)


  1. Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

    Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    "Dulce et Decorum Est" Wilfred Owen

    I finished listening to "A World Undone" a few weeks ago. It’s a very long, but still one-volume, history of the World War I. I was waiting for this poem to be mentioned, and, sure enough, it was.

    It seems appropriate to post it today.

  2. johndarnielle:

    153

    I’m cross with god who has wrecked this generation.
    First he seized Ted, then Richard, Randall, and now Delmore.
    In between he gorged on Sylvia Plath.
    That was a first rate haul. He left alive
    fools I could number like a kitchen knife
    but Lowell he did not touch.

    Somewhere the enterprise continues, not —
    yellow the sun lies on the baby’s blouse —
    in Henry’s staggered thought.
    I suppose the word would be, we must submit.
    Later.
    I hang, and I will not be part of it.

    A friend of Henry’s contrasted God’s career
    with Mozart’s, leaving Henry with nothing to say
    but praise for a word so apt.
    We suffer on, a day, a day, a day.
    And never again can come, like a man slapped,
    news like this

        —John Berryman, The Dream Songs

  3. Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
    The ground opens up and envelopes me
    Each time I go out to walk the dog.
    Or the broad edged silly music the wind
    Makes when I run for a bus…

    Things have come to that.

    And now, each night I count the stars.
    And each night I get the same number.
    And when they will not come to be counted,
    I count the holes they leave.

    Nobody sings anymore.

    And then last night I tiptoed up
    To my daughter’s room and heard her
    Talking to someone, and when I opened
    The door, there was no one there
    Only she on her knees, peeking into

    Her own clasped hands

    Amiri Baraka, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

    Baraka died today at 79.

    I took an independent study course on Beat literature when I was a junior in college. The course covered his poetry, as well as his play, "Dutchman". I’ve come back to this poem over and over since then, and I nearly always find something new.

  4. The night is long, and the night is full of terrors, but Walt Whitman once drank wine with Oscar Wilde in his third-story den, where they talked of love.

    Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman Probably Had Sex Once

    (Via Matt)

    One, this piece is amazing.

    Two, I recall a story from "Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg", but which I can find no reference to online, that Allen Ginsberg slept with someone who had once slept with Walt Whitman. Which means that he was at a slightly more distant but similar remove from Oscar Wilde. If that doesn’t thrill you, well, then, you obviously aren’t me.

    (via everythinginthesky)

  5. The people upstairs all practise ballet
    Their living room is a bowling alley
    Their bedroom is full of conducted tours.
    Their radio is louder than yours,
    They celebrate week-ends all the week.
    When they take a shower, your ceilings leak.
    They try to get their parties to mix
    By supplying their guests with Pogo sticks,
    And when their fun at last abates,
    They go to the bathroom on roller skates.
    I might love the people upstairs more
    If only they lived on another floor.

    The People Upstairs by Ogden Nash

    Someone sent this to me after I complained about our upstairs neighbors on Twitter. The funny thing? One of our neighbors HAS flooded their bathroom and caused our ceiling to leak.

  6. Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

    Since the world’s going to end and we have a huge winter storm coming through, this seemed appropriate.

  7. Pigeons shake their wings on the copper church roof
    out my window across the street, a bird perched on the cross
    surveys the city’s blue-grey clouds. Larry Rivers
    ‘ll come at 10 AM and take my picture. I’m taking
    your picture, pigeons. I’m writing you down, Dawn.
    I’m immortalizing your exhaust, Avenue A bus.
    O Thought, now you’ll have to think the same thing forever!
  8. You are not beautiful, exactly.
    You are beautiful, inexactly.
    You let a weed grow by the mulberry
    And a mulberry grow by the house.
    So close, in the personal quiet
    Of a windy night, it brushes the wall
    And sweeps away the day till we sleep.

    A child said it, and it seemed true:
    “Things that are lost are all equal.”
    But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
    The air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
    Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
    The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
    I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

    To Dorothy by Marvin Bell

    I heard him read this when I was in college, and then ended up moving to the state where he was poet laureate.

  9. Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
    The ground opens up and envelopes me
    Each time I go out to walk the dog.
    Or the broad edged silly music the wind
    Makes when I run for a bus…

    Things have come to that.

    And now, each night I count the stars.
    And each night I get the same number.
    And when they will not come to be counted,
    I count the holes they leave.

    Nobody sings anymore.

    And then last night I tiptoed up
    To my daughter’s room and heard her
    Talking to someone, and when I opened
    The door, there was no one there…
    Only she on her knees, peeking into

    Her own clasped hands

    Amiri Baraka: Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

    The third stanza is probably my favorite part of any poem in English.

  10. All the stores will open if you say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against the wall mother fucker this is a stick up!

    ~ Everett LeRoi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka)

    Amiri Baraka ARB

  11. How to Write a Poem

    the-how-to:

    by Catherine Pond

    1. Use imperatives to amplify urgency. For example: Wink. Go to bed. Open the door. Listen up, fucker.  Love me again.              Get it?              A build-up is nice too. Do this, do that, then do this other thing which is clearly impossible and probably abstract to add texture to the language. (Note: This works in fiction too). 

    2. Try, every time, to exorcise that thing which you cannot exorcise. (Be it an event, a person, a trauma, an apple you ate, etc.) 

    3. Sleep with as few people as possible. This prevents confusion about whom you are addressing in your poem. If you know whom you are addressing, the poem will come about faster. This may or may not be at odds with

    4. Get your heart broken a few times. That shock of motivation you feel after you finally get out of bed—use it. Take it, run with it, run alongside the ocean with it or the bay or the river. (If you have no access to water this will become a problem later so I’d get right on that.) On that note

    5. Do not deny yourself nature. In an interview this summer, Charles Simic said something like, “It’s hard to find the sublime in the urban.” True story, bitches.      

    6. Do not use the word “dream.” Assume your readers understand that every poem is a type of dream. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Like being Sylvia Plath. Don’t push it.    

    7. Don’t pity yourself. Do not think you are the only one. At the same time, build a world in which you can validate that you are the only one. Use specifics to convey the nature of the speaker, the speaker’s tone, and the conflict of emotion in the poem. These should all strike the reader as idiosyncratic, entirely individual to you, the writer. They should be proof, in fact, that you are the only one (in the world of the poem) and that there is no one else like you.      

    8. Be aware of the duality of human nature. Mary Gaitskill described this duality as two currents at odds with one another moving within the same channel. No one is happy all the time, or sweet, or miserable, or unmoved. We are often two opposing things. To say otherwise (also known as being reductive) would reveal a deep naiveté that you, as oft-revered poet and sage, do not want to be associated with.

    9. At the same time, pick one emotion and aim for it. If you are writing a poem about grandma and you think of grandma with equal parts nostalgia and disdain, pick only ONE for the sake of clarity. Make every word in that poem so heavy with disdain that the tone is unmistakable. Yes, I chose for you: disdain. It’s more interesting.

    10. Don’t be afraid of punctuation. Embrace the Dick. (Emily Dickinson, that is.) This can be hard to pull off, even for me. Wink, Etc.  

    Read More

    Jesus, the How-To is just killing it.

  12. The whole idea of it makes me feel like I’m coming down with something, something worse than any stomach ache or the headaches I get from reading in bad light— a kind of measles of the spirit, a mumps of the psyche, a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

    You tell me it is too early to be looking back, but that is because you have forgotten the perfect simplicity of being one and the beautiful complexity introduced by two. But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit. At four I was an Arabian wizard. I could make myself invisible by drinking a glass of milk a certain way. At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

    But now I am mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light. Back then it never fell so solemnly against the side of my tree house, and my bicycle never leaned against the garage as it does today, all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

    This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself, as I walk through the universe in my sneakers. It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends, time to turn the first big number.

    It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me I could shine. But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life, I skin my knees. I bleed.

    Billy Collins

    On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

    I posted this a few years ago on my birthday. I really love this poem.

  13. In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor
    is more elaborate than the last. The alleys smell of cops, pistols bumping their thighs,
    each chamber steeled with a slim blue bullet.

    Low-rent balconies stacked to the sky.
    A boy plays tic-tac-toe on a moon
    crossed by TV antennae, dreams

    he has swallowed a blue bean. It takes root in his gut, sprouts and twines upward, the vines curling
    around the sockets and locking them shut.

    And this sky, knotting like a dark tie? The patroller, disinterested, holds all the beans.

    August. The mums nod past, each a prickly heart on a sleeve.

  14. Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests; as 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 could 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, digging down and down
    For the good turf. Digging.

    The cold smell of potato mold, 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.

  15. Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

    Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
    The ground opens up and envelopes me
    Each time I go out to walk the dog.
    Or the broad edged silly music the wind
    Makes when I run for a bus…

    Things have come to that.

    And now, each night I count the stars.
    And each night I get the same number.
    And when they will not come to be counted,
    I count the holes they leave.

    Nobody sings anymore.

    And then last night I tiptoed up
    To my daughter’s room and heard her
    Talking to someone, and when I opened
    The door, there was no one there…
    Only she on her knees, peeking into

    Her own clasped hands

    Amiri Baraka: Online Poems

    Maybe I lied. (Someone stop me)