Tag Archives: Poetry
Grim Town in a Steep Valley
This valley: as if a huge, dull, primordial axe
once slammed into the earth
and then withdrew—X millennia ago.
A few flat acres
ribbon either side of the river sliding sluggishly
past the clocktower, the convenience store.
If a river could look over its shoulder,
glad to be going, this one would.
In town center: a factory of clangor and stink,
of grinding and oil,
hard howls from drill bits
biting sheets of steel. All my brothers
live here, every cousin, many dozens
of sisters, my worn aunts
and numb uncles, the many many of me,
a hundred sad wives,
all of us countrymen and women
born next to each other behind the plow
in this valley, each of us
pressing to our chests a loaf of bread
and a jug of milk. . . . The river is low
this time of year and the bedstones’ blackness
marks its lack
of depth. A shopping cart
lies on its side in center stream
gathering branches, detritus, silt,
forcing the already weak current to part for it,
dividing it, but even so diminished
it’s glad to be going,
glad to be gone.
Richard Brautigan (1950)
A piece of green pepper
off the wooden salad bowl:
This is just to say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
– William Carlos Williams
Mark but this flea, and mark in this
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou knowest that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered, swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumphest, and sayest that thou
Findest not thyself nor me the weaker now.
æTis true. Then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yieldest to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.
I found it and I named it, being versed
in taxonomic Latin; thus became
godfather to an insect and its first
describer – and I want no other fame.
Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
in the secluded stronghold where we keep
type specimens it will transcend its dust.
Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
poems that take a thousand years to die
but ape the immortality of this
red label on a little butterfly.
– Vladimir Nabokov
“A Discovery” (December 1941); published as “On Discovering a Butterfly” in The New Yorker (15 May 1943)
The time has come, the weatherman says
To indulge in snowy puns
To speak of the “snowpocalypse”
As snow pours down in tons.
Just when we think the storm has passed,
Another squall, it comes!
Supplies and things have gotten scarce
As residents start to loot
Near-barren shelves of bread and meat,
The use of shovels moot.
We all abhor the search for cars,
And traverse the world on foot.
Yes — snOMG! — it’s frakking cold!
We’re bundled up indoor
And cabin fever rears its head:
We’ve paced and paced the floor.
It’s three days now of canceled work!
WHERE’S THE WARMING, GORE?!
The Fed has closed these last few days
(Congress shall make no law)
So much for “neither rain nor sleet” —
Mail delivery? Ha!
Even Whole Foods on P St. closed,
Awaiting promised thaw.
It’s not the cabin fever, tho
Or even howling gale
That renders snow days bearable
For we, those hearty, hale
Who take the opportunity
To mock DC’s snow-clearing FAIL.
For when it comes right down to it
There’s something to be said
For days we spend away from work
Even housebound, stuck in bed
These days away, they can refresh
To read, to sleep, to sled.
It matters less, you understand
How you spend snow days
More important to your attitude
Is embracing all the ways
That folks permit a neighborhood
To bond o’er snowy malaise.
But no! That is ridiculous!
The entire snowy point
Is to embrace the “snowverkill”
To every word anoint
A snowy meaning — keep on theme! —
A “portmansnow” word joint.
All the snow, ice, and the wind,
Those rend’ring, freezing gusts;
They stir all our linguistical,
And punning natures’ lust
But, kids! It’s come time to implore!
Enough! Stop now! Adjust!
It’s snowy now, this brave new world
Accept the old world’s gone!
You’ll never see the beach again!
Boat drinks, from now, are *wrong*!
Just give up perm’nent hope for heat!
Summer is time foregone!
Unlikely, yes, but sadly true
Winter forever set
We share the forlorn grasshopper’s
Wasted summer regrets!
When next it’s warm, I swear to God!
I’ll not snowdays forget!
Whole Foods’s shelves were all too early bare,
But as til Thursday we will be snowed in,
Bare shelves could not stop me from going there.
To be quite frank I went for just one thing —
I wanted bourbon and I had forgot,
Their liquor license holds just wine and beer;
Reluctantly I found milk and the lot.
Without bourbon tho I remained afraid
Of snowy pangs when everything’s delayed.
Around the block I trudged in near despair
O Dear Logan why do you pleasures hide?!
Then tell-tale deadbolt and tall guard aware
The presence of a liquor store belied!
Gladly for under twenty dollars sold
Shelves stocked now with warming Kentucky gold.