April 18, 2011

Mary Oliver: “Tasting the Wild Grapes”

Posted in Poetry at 9:43 pm by The Lizard Queen

Tasting the Wild Grapes

The red beast
who lives in the side of these hills
won’t come out for anything you have:
money or music. Still, there are moments
heavy with light and good luck. Walk
quietly under these tangled vines
and pay attention, and one morning
something will explode underfoot
like a branch of fire; one afternoon
something will flow down the hill
in plain view, a muscled sleeve the color
of all October! And forgetting
everything you will leap to name it
as though for the first time, your lit blood
rushing not to a word but a sound
small-boned, thin-faced, in a hurry,
lively as the dark thorns of the wild grapes
on the unsuspecting tongue!
The fox! The fox!

—Mary Oliver, 1978

From American Primitive


Joan Logghe: Untitled

Posted in Poetry at 9:35 pm by The Lizard Queen

Posting three, count ’em, three poems today!¬† ūüôā

I hold one human form which is as much
blessing as body, as much prayer
as genital. One man I love is seventy.
The nerve to die, four or five of you.
I passed a sad man on the road
who would have loved me. Ambition
flew out our window over there,
a haze over the Jemez. Leftover flies

from summer on the glass. I swoon
my way through autumn. Not the same
knocking or the same wood. Held and holy,
the heart is the tisket, the tasket, blood
basket. Full lotus position and then the casket.
Under the next full moon, let’s just kiss.

—Joan Logghe, 2004

From Rice

April 15, 2011

Links, poetry-related and otherwise

Posted in Government, Humor, Language, Poetry, Politics at 2:56 pm by The Lizard Queen

I stumbled this morning upon this poem, by Catherynne M. Valente: A Silver Splendour, A Flame.¬† It’s exceptional—part poem, part libretto for an imaginary¬†vaudville show, part retelling of the Persephone myth,¬†part kaleidescope, maybe even a bit¬†of ars poetica,¬†and¬†entirely beautiful.¬† Well worth checking out.

The Zingara Poet has begun a new series of interviews with poets, which will feature discussions with poets a bit more off the beaten path than one normally encounters in textbooks or at, say, Poets.org.  The first interview, with Alarie Tennille, can be found here.

Just for the record, Liberty University (a private, conservative Christian institution founded by Jerry Falwell) received more money from the federal government last year than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting did.  (Hat tip to Fred Clark.)

What’s with the abuse of¬†figurative speech¬†lately?¬† First Senator Jon Kyl states that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s work is related to abortions (when the figure is actually closer to 3%), and when called on it, his office stated that “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement,” and then, after Kobe Bryant received criticism for calling a referee a “fucking faggot,” he stated that the slur “should not be taken literally.”¬† What bothers me about issues like these is, quite simply, words mean things.¬† “Oh, but that’s not what I meant” does not come across, to me,¬†as a particularly compelling explanation.¬† Even when writing poetry—a form of communication that is not generally assumed to represent factual statements or to be taken literally—if most of the people who hear or read your words take from them a meaning counter (or unrelated) to the one you’d intended, you might want to reconsider your words.

Of course, Jon Kyl’s statement ended up leading to a thoroughly amusing Twitter hashtag, so that’s something.

This article about a young woman growing up Objectivist has been making its way across the interwebs, but I thought I’d link to it as well,¬†just in case my lovely readers haven’t seen it.

Happy Friday, all!

April 14, 2011

E. E. Cummings: “Spring is like a perhaps hand”

Posted in Poetry at 9:33 pm by The Lizard Queen

Spring is like a perhaps hand


Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

—E. E. Cummings

April 13, 2011

Billy Collins: “Sweet Talk”

Posted in Poetry at 5:41 pm by The Lizard Queen

Sweet Talk

You are not the Mona Lisa
with that relentless look.
Or Venus borne over the froth
of waves on a pink half shell.
Or an odalisque by Delacroix,
veils lapping at your nakedness.

You are more like the sunlight
of Edward Hopper,
especially when it slants
against the eastern side
of a white clapboard house
in the early hours of the morning,
with no figure standing
at a window in a violet bathrobe,
just the sunlight,
the columns of the front porch,
and the long shadows
they throw down
upon the green dark lawn, baby.

—Billy Collins, 1995

April 12, 2011

Julia de Burgos: “To Julia de Burgos”

Posted in Poetry at 11:33 am by The Lizard Queen

To Julia de Burgos

Already the people murmur that I am your enemy
because they say that in verse I give the world your me.

They lie, Julia de Burgos. They lie, Julia de Burgos.
Who rises in my verses is not your voice. It is my voice
because you are the dressing and the essence is me;
and the most profound abyss is spread between us.

You are the cold doll of social lies,
and me, the virile starburst of the human truth.

You, honey of courtesan hypocrisies; not me;
in all my poems I undress my heart.

You are like your world, selfish; not me
who gambles everything betting on what I am.

You are only the ponderous lady very lady;
not me; I am life, strength, woman.

You belong to your husband, your master; not me;
I belong to nobody, or all, because to all, to all
I give myself in my clean feeling and in my thought.

You curl your hair and paint yourself; not me;
the wind curls my hair, the sun paints me.

You are a housewife, resigned, submissive,
tied to the prejudices of men; not me;
unbridled, I am a runaway Rocinante
snorting horizons of God’s justice.

You in yourself have no say; everyone governs you;
your husband, your parents, your family,
the priest, the dressmaker, the theatre, the dance hall,
the auto, the fine furnishings, the feast, champagne,
heaven and hell, and the social, “what will they say.”

Not in me, in me only my heart governs,
only my thought; who governs in me is me.
You, flower of aristocracy; and me, flower of the people.
You in you have everything and you owe it to everyone,
while me, my nothing I owe to nobody.

You nailed to the static ancestral dividend,
and me, a one in the numerical social divider,
we are the duel to death who fatally approaches.

When the multitudes run rioting
leaving behind ashes of burned injustices,
and with the torch of the seven virtues,
the multitudes run after the seven sins,
against you and against everything unjust and inhuman,
I will be in their midst with the torch in my hand.

—Julia de Burgos
Translated by Jack Ag√ľeros

April 11, 2011

Dana Levin: “Smoke”

Posted in Poetry at 9:00 am by The Lizard Queen


The schoolhouse is red, as it’s supposed to be.
And the smell of woodsmoke, like a fire, like a fire.
Where are we going, my nation my loved one,
in this valley like a sink with no drain at the bottom
where you and I trudge through the snow.

Where are we going, my nation my loved one,
in this pit of water where we’ll drown come Spring,
in this poem without instruction,
without point or moral,
where the smoke stands in for the flame.

—Dana Levin, 1999

April 10, 2011

Amy Fleury: “Consider the Thunder”

Posted in Poetry at 8:51 pm by The Lizard Queen

Consider the Thunder

Its low deliberate appeal,
how it speaks of hunger or danger
or deluge. Every weather
shuns its own burden.

And even the heft of sunlight
shrugged from the sky
settles heavy on the shoulders
of cornstalks and children.

Consider the gifts of wind,
all that makeshift music
and the scribbles of twigs
caught in rainspouts and gutters,
debris tangled in a girl’s hair.

Even sleet spits it sharp
anointment onto our upturned
faces and delivers
into our hands
a harsh blessing.

—Amy Fleury, 2004

From Beautiful Trouble

Gary Jackson: “How to Get Lynched on the Job”

Posted in Poetry at 8:44 pm by The Lizard Queen

(Another two-fer today!)

How to Get Lynched on the Job

During lunch, 3:00 A.M. in front
of the vending machines, Stuart whispered

in Nicole’s ear that he wanted to taste
her. She got the hell away,

he just laughed. It was the first time
I worried for him. Never mind

she was engaged. Never mind the harassment
suit that should’ve followed. She was white.

Whistling and whispering, it’s all the same.
The truth is the world ain’t changed.

None of us are far
from ending like Emmett.

—Gary Jackson, 2010

From Missing You, Metropolis

April 8, 2011

Ada Lim√≥n: “Sharks in the Rivers”

Posted in Poetry at 12:26 pm by The Lizard Queen

Sharks in the Rivers

We’ll say unbelievable things
to each other in the early morning—

our blue coming up from our roots,
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs.

All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles
and ghosts of men, and spirits
behind those birds of flame.

I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes,
I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through.

It is a short walkway—
into another bedroom.

Consider the handle. Consider the key.

I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks.

How I thought I saw them in the creek
across from my street.

I once watched for them, holding a bundle
of rattlesnake grass in my hand,
shaking like a weak-leaf girl.

She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says,

Sharks bite fewer people each year than
New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records.

Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks.

Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying,

Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.

I write all the things I need on the bottom
of my tennis shoes. I say, Let’s walk together.

The sun behind me is like a fire.
Tiny flames in the river’s ripples.

I say something to God, but he’s not a living thing,
so I say it to the river, I say,

I want to walk through this doorway
But without all those ghosts on the edge,
I want them to stay here.
I want them to go on without me.

I want them to burn in the water.

—Ada Lim√≥n, 2010

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