looking

Once when I read the funnies
I took my little magnifying glass
and looked too close.

Forms became colors and colors
were just arrays of dots
and between the dots I saw the rough bleak
storyless legend of the pulp paper
empty as the winter moon

and dreaded it.
I had looked right through,
when I wanted a universe
that sustains
looker and looking and the seen
forever, detail after detail
never ending. And all I had found
was between. But between
had its own song:
Find it in the space between—

it is just as empty as it seems
but this blankness is your mother.

(Robert Kelly, from Under Words.)

the beach in august

The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
Comes in and is left, and dries
In the sun. Another fat woman
In a dull green bathing suit
Dives into the water and dies.
The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun
While the seascape arranges old fruit,
Coming in with the tide, glistening
At noon. A woman, moderately stout,
In a nondescript bathing suit,
Swims to a pier. A tall woman
Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human
Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

(Weldon Kees, from Poems 1947–1954.)

hüsker dü plays for joan rivers

Let that happen in the country. These men. Latest album, it’s called.
We have songs and stories. She has seen you. Didn’t even want. Days.

I’m sure you’ve heard this. See it.
Nor says—
                   what does—
                                        they do mean—
Okay, this career as a result:
that means, do you remember?
And I did. You take it. Is—
it’s not your average language.
To get just under diplomatic, the U.S. is,
it’s a children’s working, also.
Sparkling sixties and seventies, and
though the most lives—
Danish any minute!

Well, you know it works.
That makes sense that they may have had
you. Used to be
Senator McCain, you know, that really
much more underground to? Can see much more. Radical
Jan, eighteen years old. System, will it,
the band is, uh,
                           you’ve also,
                                              course of a year’s—
Taking naps on this issue. Coming up: the sound of Warner Brothers is a very
(the label now).

Sometimes, an excuse for people not to do anything is to knock people. Who I am,
did you find something different and in music? Think he went from being radical to moving.
Have you changed? I think you know, sir.
In order to do it and craft room to maneuver
a, you know, anything,
as you get older,
you know your emotional spiritually. Console. More involved, a little wider, and
it’s not just screaming about “Hamas took the government,” is— no merger your parents, and it’s,
it’s easy, to that mandate.
The now.

Each will engage in a gallon up,
whose economy money is a while.
No, I don’t mean a minor. Scuffles in a box,
I guess, how are—? just calling on a timeline? are over? There,
and you’re,
                   um,
                          Greg Norman.
Yeah.

Halfway between the calming influence in the world; influence are at. And these,
Andrea, and yeah,
that allowed, right.
That’s what the children, the harsh,
but I think the “you”. It’s just wonderful. We come back again,
a lot of us, and we’ll be right back.
in a few minutes. With the anybody around, that time when I,
I acted Ian McKellen, of Gang out of Gas.

I want to thank God that – not – bank – you – on that.

(Source. Text is from the “Transcribe Audio” feature; I added capitalization and punctuation because we can’t expect Google to do everything for us.)

what’s water?

For David Foster Wallace

This guy got lost in the snow. Then found.
Then came a sense of having lost the snow
or lost water or some infinite thing.

He watched the ME channel, day in and
day out. He couldn’t help it: An old fish
swam by some little fish, asking,

how’s the water? The skeletons in one
show taught parables about greed, envy,
and lust, to show that vices lead to loss.

This little rat got obsessed with
weight lifting and sex, for example.
She preened on, licking her tail & feet.

But the rat had already been lost, clearly,
or had already lost. From the beginning,
she looked thirsty. Her dark eyes peered out

as if toward some infinite thing, some body
of water from which to drink,
across which might be a horizon.

The guy remembered his time in Alaska
when, close to death, he had longed for God
with a purity that felt close to God, how

afterward the longing ebbed, and even
snow went back to being a hassle, often
dirty. The skeleton said truth every time

the rat said beauty. In the wild, you have to
melt snow before you drink it. He had known
that much, to separate the air from water.

(Heather Green, from No Omen.)

injured books

Near the top of each page a new story would begin, go on
for a while, reach the end of the page, and never end. One
would become lost in story after story, set on edge, anxious
to find out what would finally happen. And always, nothing,
no matter where one found oneself in any story at the
end of the page it was over. You would never know how each
story might have ended. At the end of the page it was over.
We took these books with us to desert islands.

(Dara Wier, from Remnants of Hannah.)

white

(for Harold Bloom)

Now in the middle of my life
all things are white.
I walk under the trees,
the frayed leaves,
the wide net of noon,
and the day is white.
And my breath is white,
drifting over the patches
of grass and fields of ice
into the high circles of light.
As I walk, the darkness of
my steps is also white,
and my shadow blazes
under me. In all seasons
the silence where I find myself
and what I make of nothing are white,
the white of sorrow,
the white of death.
Even the night that calls
like a dark wish is white;
and in my sleep as I turn
in the weather of dreams
it is the white of my sheets
and the white shades of the moon
drawn over my floor
that save me for morning.
And out of my waking
the circle of light widens,
it fills with trees, houses,
stretches of ice.
It reaches out. It rings
the eye with white.
All things are one.
All things are joined
even beyond the edge of sight.

(Mark Strand, from The Late Hour.)

keeping things whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

(Mark Strand, from Sleeping with One Eye Open.)

the decline of the west

O Oswald, O Spengler, this is very sad to find!
My attic, my children
ignore me for the violet-banded sky.
There are no clean platters in the cupboard
and the milkman’s horse tiptoes by, as though
afraid to wake us.

What! Our culture in its dotage!
Yet this very poem refutes it,
springing up out of the collective unconscious
like a weasel through a grating.
I could point to other extremities, both on land
and at sea, where the waves will gnash your stark theories
like a person eating a peanut. Say, though,
that we are not exceptional,
that, like the curve of a breast above a bodice,
our parabolas seek and find the light, returning
from not too far away. Ditto the hours
we’ve squandered: daisies, coins of light.

In the end he hammered out
what it was not wanted we should know.
For that we should be grateful,
and for that patch of a red ridinghood
caught in brambles against the snow.

His book, I saw it somewhere and I bought it.
I never read it for it seemed too long.
His theory though, I fought it
though it spritzes my song,
and now the skateboard stops
impeccably. We are where we exchanged
positions. O who could taste the crust of this love?

(John Ashbery, from And the Stars Were Shining.)

token resistance

As one turns to one in a dream
smiling like a bell taht has just
stopped tolling, holds out a book,
and speaks: “All the vulgarity

of time, from the Stone Age
to our present, with its noodle parlors
and token resistance, is as a life
to the life that is given you. Wear it,”

so must one descend from checkered heights
that are our friends, needlessly
rehearsing what we will say
as a common light bathes us,

a common fiction reverberates as we pass
to the celebration. Originally
we weren’t going to leave home. But made bold
somehow by the rain we put our best foot forward.

Now it’s years after that. It
isn’t possible to be young anymore.
Yet the tree treats me like a brute friend;
my own shoes have scarred the walk I’ve taken.

(John Ashbery, from And the Stars Were Shining.)