Self-aware poetry about poetry and /or
to Poetry by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
I Stop Writing
the Poem by Tess Gallagher
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I'm still a woman.
I'll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I'll get back
to the poem. I'll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there's a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it's done.
kidnap poem by Nikki Giovanni
ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
The Twins by Rachel Hadas
Philip Larkin says
novels are about those
numerous men and women who're not us,
entering whose complicated houses,
following whose miseries and joys,
we can for a while escape ourselves.
Poems, on the other hand, ask why,
scream, whisper, cry,
all (if they choose) wearing the guise of "I."
Spinning connection upon
connection, leaping out along the line,
they tend to lack solutions.
conclusions, plots. The questions
poems pose are less then what? than how?
we get from moment to
moment. In obedience to some law
poems manage to reveal
as rapidly or slowly they unreel
not only what I but also what others feel.
If we go to prose
hoping it will help us lose
track of our lives, in poems we find ourselves.
There what began as alien --
anger, memory, dream --
leaps the chasm. Poems clear the air
so anyone can see from here to there
into another's mysterious desire.
Walls that separate, doors tightly shut,
all barriers that proclaim PRIVATE! KEEP OUT!
poetry breaches, having made us so
porous I can suddenly be you,
explore your mazy brain, as you can mine.
Live and forget, but read and recognize.
Be a guest in the enchanted house
built by twins who are identical
only in being both miraculous.
Bud by Naoshi Koriyama
One is amazed
By a water-lily bud
With each passing day,
Taking on a richer color
And new dimensions.
One is not amazed,
At first glance,
By a poem,
Which is tight-closed
As a tiny bud.
Yet one is surprised
To see the poem
Revealing its rich inner self
As one reads it
And over again.
Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish
A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit
As old medallions to the thumb
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown --
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind --
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
A poem should be equal to:
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea --
A poem should not mean
Shallow Poem by Gerda Mayer
I've thought of a poem.
I carry it carefully,
nervously, in my head,
like a saucer of milk:
in case I should spill some lines
before I can put it down.
To Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
Don't be polite.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
to throw away.
to the Question: "How can You Become a Poet?"
by Eve Merriam
take the leaf of a tree
trace its exact shape
the outside edges
and inner lines
memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
(and how the twig arches from the branch)
how it springs forth in April
how it is panoplied in July
by late August
crumple it in your hand
so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness
chew its woody stem
listen to its autumn rattle
watch it as it atomizes in the November air
then in winter
when there is no leaf left
Poetry by Marianne Moore
I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect
contempt for it, one discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the
that can grasp, eyes
can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important
not because a
high sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
useful; when they become so derivative
as to become unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for
all of us, that we
not admire what
cannot understand: the bat,
holding on upside down or in quest
of something to
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
a tree, the immovable critic twitching
his skin like a horse that
feels a flea, the base--
fan, the statistician--
is it valid
to discriminate against "business
schoolbooks"; all these phenomena are important. One must
make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence
by half poets, the result is not pretty,
nor till the poets among us can
insolence and triviality and can
for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall
it. In the meantime, if you demand
on one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
its rawness and
which is on the other hand
genuine, then you are interested
Because You Asked
about the Line
between Prose and Poetry by Howard
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
There came a moment that you couldn't tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.
The Poet by Pablo Neruda
That time when I moved among happenings
in the midst of my mournful devotions; that time
when I cherished a leaflet of quartz,
and stared at a lifetime's vocation.
I ranged in the markets of avarice
where goodness is bought for a price, breathed
the insensate miasmas of envy, the inhuman
contention of masks and existences.
I endured in the bog-dweller's element; the lily
that breaks on the water in a sudden
disturbance of bubbles and blossoms, devoured me.
Whatever the foot sought, the spirit deflected,
or sheered toward the fang of the pit.
So my poems took being, in travail
retrieved from the thorn, like a penance,
wrenched by a seizure of hands, out of solitude;
or they parted for burial
their secretest flower in immodesty's garden.
Estranged to myself, like shadow on water
that moves through a corridor's fathoms,
I sped through the exile of each man's existence,
this way and that, and so, to habitual loathing;
for I saw that their being was this: to stifle
one half of existence's fullness like fish
in an alien limit of ocean. And there,
in immensity's mire, I encountered their death;
Death grazing the barriers,
Death opening roadways and doorways.
Metaphors by Sylvia Plath
I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.
and Sense by Alexander Pope
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
Combination of Ontological Inscape,
Trickery and Love by Anne Sexton
Busy, with an idea for a code, I write
signals hurrying from left to right,
or right to left, by obscure routes,
for my own reasons; taking a word like writes
down tiers of tries until its secret rites
make sense; or until, suddenly, RATS
can amazingly and funnily become STAR
and right to left that small star
is mine, for my own liking, to stare
its five lucky pins inside out, to store
forever kindly, as if it were a star
I touched and a miracle I really wrote.
Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs bum like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
Notes on the Art
of Poetry by Dylan Thomas
I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words...
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights...
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.
The Writer by Richard Wilbur
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.
I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.
Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy..
I wish her a lucky passage.
But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which
The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.
I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash
And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark
And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,
And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,
It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.
It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
You Are Reading This Too Fast by Ken Norris
You are reading this too fast.
Slow down, for this is poetry
and poetry works slowly.
Unless you live with it a while
the spirit will never descend.
It's so easy to quickly cut across the surface
and then claim there was nothing to find.
Touch the poem gently with your eyes
just as you would touch a lover's flesh.
Poetry is an exercise in patience,
you must wait for it to come to you.
The spirit manifests in many guises;
some quiver with beauty,
some vibrate with song.
What is happening?
Slow down, slow down,
take a few deep breaths,
read the poem slowly,
read the lines one at a time,
read the words one by one,
read the spaces between the words,
get sleepy, this is poetry,
relax until your heart
is vulnerable, wide open.
For Poets by Al Young
but don't stay down underground too long
Dont turn into a mole
or a worm
or a root
or a stone
Come on out into the sunlight
Breathe in trees
Knock out mountains
Commune with snakes
& be the very hero of birds
Don't forget to poke your head up
Walk all around
Dont forget to fly