Thursday, October 09, 2008

I know we're all poets at heart

Forget French people and Swedish prizes! Today is Poetry Appreciation Day. Lisa kicked off celebrating your favorite poem with her post on Robert Frost's "Road Not Taken."

My favorite poet at the moment is Anne Carson, who wrote an amazing novel in verse called AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED. One of my authors turned me onto Anne, and I am constantly amazed.

I would love to put up one of her poems here, but, being an editor for the establishment, I'm all freaked out about copyright infringement. However, you can read it here on Google Reader.

Have a poem! Leave a poem (in the comments)! I'm a sucker for rhyme, particularly cheesy rhyme.

(Cheesy? Cheesey? Does anyone else find my inability to spell utterly endearing? Please say yes.)


H. L. Dyer said...

I'm afraid my poems don't rhyme. But here's a free verse snippet from freshman year college:

My Mother Wars with Army Shoes

Sis wears combat boots in the front seat
Because they’re
Fine fuel for family feud
Mama weeps white wine, wicks, and wax,
While she worries over the blank black
And the Ouija wood.

She presses her mind flat against her sole-window
Licking the light from her lips and pawing the pennies in her pocket.
She knows she can’t afford to understand and
Presses closer in her mammogram of the mind.

She drips drool for dual dimensionality where
Daddy long-dregs, lumps and knots, are too thin
To think through,
Since switchblades and skulls are easier to not know
That which cocktail to offer her husband’s girlfriend
If she wears high heels when she picks him up.

While boots bang and mama mews,
I sit in the back.
The streetlights slip beneath my glasses and
I can see my eyes in them.

Precie said...

Oooh!!!! You can read one of my favorites here:

"Diving into the Wreck" by Adrienne Rich

And here's another I like:

"Quilts" by Nikki Giovanni

Want more? I've got more!

Precie said...

And here's a rhyming one from dear Dickinson:

"I'm Nobody! Who Are You?"

Steve Axelrod said...

Here's one from a father's point of view -- complete with rhymes ...

There is a grace to parenthood
And so there must be a fall.
I gaze at my daughter --
A self untested, uncertain
But pure
Wearing a purple dress
Looking not small but miniature
A cameo impression of a future self
Composed and separate
Going off to a dance
Or to college or to work
Walking just as she does now
(A little more steady)
Posture just as straight
Striding without looking back
Across some future lawn
The same person but bigger
And gone.

I miss her already
I cannot see her enough
Human perception is too small
It rattles like a pea
In the vast box of a single second.
The loss cannot be reckoned
The predicament
Is too peculiar to mention:
I stand indicted by a future self
For the crime of divided attention.
So I stare
Grabbing at the swift flow of time;
Fistfuls of stream water
Standing five feet away from my daughter
Until my eyes begin to blur:

Watching and watching
And watching

Mary said...

Precie, you beat me to Diving!


Variations on the Word Sleep by Margaret Atwood

CNU said...

I typically don't rhyme.


The daze were grey-
Until teased
W/ forcible heat
Streaming dead plants
Leftovers from lunch-
Lurch out for me.
Like condescending bastards.
I see them everywhere
Yet they don’t see themselves.
Should I apologize for being a shiny surface?
Mimic garbage to
Infect our universal disease?
These streets
Asbestos construction-
Trendy coffee drinks
Serial killer lies.
Ponder the inadequacies
Man and the wasted potential
Gifted in every breath.
If no one reads this will I die w/ solace?
Do wounded animals get struck
For their recompense
Supposed sin against the curious?
Where’s the love in this sea of arrogant
Whispered across metal tables
Overpriced meals.
I die a little against the click-clack
Leaves against brick
Feel the eerie warm breeze
In November,
Slightly marred by tomorrow’s supposed rain.

(Taken from my poetry compilation. )

My favorite poets are Wordsworth, Neruda and Poe.

Diane T said...

Just for you, Moonrat, I expose for public ridicule some doggerel I wrote after attending a children's writing conference with one too many would-be-poets-who-don't-study-poetry:

Why do editors complain
Bad poetry drives them insane?
Why show our verse such cruel disdain?
It's all superb, as I'll explain:

A poem is an easy thing
A string of words that dance and sing
A couplet worth remembering
A poem is a tiny thing

A poem is a simple feat:
Set some words down to a beat
Choose a rhythm and repeat
Who said it's hard to compose meter?

A poem isn't hard to rhyme
It's easier than keeping time
"Cat" with "hat" is not a crime
So why cast such a doubtful eye?

Why do editors complain
Bad poetry drives them insane?
Why show our verse such cruel disdain?
Cause when it's wrong, it hurts your brain!

NoHoJax said...

My personal favorite:

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

Great blog, by the way.

JohnO said...

You ask for cheesy rhyme? I deliver.

Ode on the Mammoth Cheese

Weight over seven thousand pounds.

We have seen thee, queen of cheese,
Lying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze,
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees,
Or as the leaves upon the trees,
It did require to make thee please.
And stand unrivalled, queen of cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to to send you off as far as
The great world's show at Paris.

Of the youth beware of these,
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek, then songs or glees
We could not sing, oh! queen of cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from balloon,
You'd cast a shade even at noon,
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

... that's by James McIntyre, known posthumously as Canada's worst poet, as well as its "Chaucer of Cheese."

Jill Corcoran said...

This one's for you Moonie,

Mouse by Jill Corcoran

House mouse traverses trap,
cheese in tow.
Vrooms past broom.
Foils foot.

Marie said...

Well, I have a poem that starts "Behold the wrath, of the cat in the bath." But that's probably not the kind of poem you mean.

moonrat said...

no, no. that sort of poem will do just fine.

awesome choices, peeps! you've kept my afternoon entertained.

ggwritespoetry said...

Here are couple of links to two of mine.$186

Kerry said...


Anonymous said...

The Family Tree

Cutting up the family tree
To keep warm against the bitter spray
Of the winter storm of icy words
And the cold front as they blast away

Sisters and siblings thrown on the fire
To keep warm against the bitter spray
Lies and altered realities defined
Designed expressly to victims slay

Mothers and fathers now as fuel
To keep warm against the bitter spray
Of their hypothermic claims so blue
Fighting the frostbitten pains they say

Splitting the logs of the trunk so old
To keep warm against the bitter spray
Removing the root, now dead and cold
Warming our hands as we burn them away

clindsay said...

Okay, you asked for it. Now you'll be sorry!

This is a poem I wrote in 1994 for a writing class. It was based on a painting (which became the title of the poem).

Women in a Brothel, 1893 (Toulouse-Lautrec)

They are not young, fixed
'round a table heavy with
dark, bitter wine and young men
there but no longer there
seeking distant intimacy with
women who are young
but not young

loose, soft curls become tight
faded buns, breasts no longer round
in the palms of arrogant men
but shapeless, sore, melting in the
tired folds of skin beneath their arms,
memory etched like lacework along
the corners of mouths and eyes,
expressionless, they gaze
not at each other, but at

corseted girls with red lips,
all new blossoms
soon becoming
blackened, powdered roses
slipping unnoticed from
between the pages of a
diary read by a stranger.

Anonymous said...


Spray bottle truth
For your eyes
Unclear stains
Now visualized
Before you
angelic blue
That chills to their missing bones

Tracks upon a wall
Scrubbed to a fault
Evidence of consciousness
Without conscience
Breaths taken aback
As light plays the play
All you need now is time
To tell when the lives were scrubbed away

It'll tell all
Spray bottle truth
The enzyme sleuth
We should all be
This chemically lucky
To be able to see
Damage hidden from us so cleanly

B. Nagel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Nagel said...

This poem is grounded in a semester dominated by theater and creative writing classes. Here.

Marie said...

Behold the wrath of the cat in the bath.
Legs rigid
and perpendicular to his torso,
tail positioned
at an inconvenient angle
the cat transforms himself
into a turgid five-pronged obstacle
you don't so much bathe as wrangle.

Once wet, the cat's fur
— not to mention his purr —
is so flattened it's absent.
Lost in a slather of spa water and suds
the cat
is only half the size he was.
The subsequent yowling
and nail-on-chalkboard scratching
should come as no surprise.
I can think of humans who would consider
even a temporary reduction in size
a situation only fit for litigation.

The irony
is that when it comes to being clean
the cat is already a pro.
Who else will persist in daily self-preening
with so much gusto?
Still, people insist on baths for cats.
The tendency to obsess
over certain points of view
is nothing new.
Wars have been started over less.

(I think I actually published this somewhere. Eek).

JES said...

Mispellings oh yes. Enfearing byond worbs.

Whenever somebody asks me to quote poetry, I trot this one out. I'm sorry, it just knocks me out every time I read it.

You Reading This, Be Ready
(by William Stafford)

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Ian said...

The Ballad of Big Mike and William
(to be read aloud in your best Western twang)
by Ian Healy

There once were two cowboys
Real men of the land
They rode over prairie
And strode over sand
They came to the West
In search of the gold
They stayed for the rest
And planned to grow old

The first was named Michael
McGillicuddy White
A man of great girth
And similar height
All the folks in town
Just called him Big Mike
A cranky old fat man
Who nobody liked

The second was slender
And thin as a whip
He scowled all the time
Did William Von Tripp
His vices were many
He liked women and drink
And losing at poker
He'd raise up a stink

It happened one day
That these two men did meet
At Johnny Kay's Bar
Over on Main Street
Billy Cole played piano
Marguerite served up gin
And Big Mike and William
Were looking to sin

They sat at the table
And Mike dealt the cards
While William drank whiskey
From a quart Mason jar
They tippled and gambled
On into the night
Until William cheated
Which started a fight

Big Mike threw the first punch
A great powerful right
Sent William down the bar
Out the door like a kite
William started yelling
And reached for his gun
Then Sheriff Tom Wyatt
Said "hold on there, son!"

"Now this here's my town
And you boys broke the peace
You settle up like gentlemen
Now desist and cease!"
But Big Mike wouldn't have it
And called William a cheat
And the two men agreed
To shoot it out in the street

"Now hang on a minute,"
Cried Big Mike in a huff
"This ain't hardly fair
And this ain't no bluff!
I'm two times as fat
As him, maybe three!
I oughtta stand twice as close
To him as he does to me!"

The Sheriff conferred
With the Elders of the town
And they all agreed
That rules must be laid down
So the duel would be fair
Each would have equal chance
To shoot at the other
In fair circumstance

The Sheriff took up
Some coal from the mines
Down Big Mike's front
He drew parallel lines
"All right, you can fight,
But now you hear this...
Any bullets outside the lines
Only count as a miss."

moonrat said...

hahahaha damn, there's some talent going round here. thanks, guys. fun day.

Anonymous said...


Here goes...

There's nothing lovelier, I think,
than a Gorgonzola stink.
A Parmesan may bat its eyes
a Jack, a Colby, tell their lies.
For to bring me to my knees,
there's little else than funky cheese.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Always my favorite poem:


Full of interesting spellings.

Julie Weathers said...

This is still under construction, but it's a ballad from my WIP.

The Rogue

The rogue slipped through the black of night
Hidden there from mortal sight.
His footsteps soft as falling snow.
His mission one so few did know.
With daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

He traveled far across the land.
Which often seemed at his command.
No blade of grass he left there bent.
To show the places where he went.
With daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

He found the hiding place at last
The guards he quickly darted past
The object he was sent to find
Had long ago been left behind.
With daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

He gathered it into his cape
And quickly made fast his escape.
The precious object close to him.
He faded then and grew so dim.
With daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

Then later on that very eve.
His bag of gold he did receive.
For bringing home the treasured piece
That all now hope would restore peace.
His daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

He found an inn to drink an ale
And slake the thirst from dusty trail
When a sheriff passed him by
And nearly looked him in the eye.
His daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

He quietly drifted up the stairs
Avoiding notice, looks and stares.
He picked a lock to chamber door.
And slipped across the bedroom floor.
His daggers strapped tight to his side.
The foe could find no place to hide.

“My darling have you come to me?”
He heard her ask so dreamily.
He looked around and saw her there.
Hair so lovely and skin so fair.
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

“How long I’ve waited for your thrill.
My need for you to once fulfill.
What changed your mind, what drew you here?
At last to grace me with love’s cheer?
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

She lifted high on passion’s wing.
He made her mind and body sing.
She mumbled low, “I still don’t see.
Why you have come at last to me.”
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

He took her higher than the sun.
Her hair and virtue both undone.
“How can I wait until we wed?
Now that you’ve come at last to bed?”
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

And when they lay at last so calm
Her whisper soothing as a balm.
“I hope you’ll stay with me awhile,”
She said with hopeful, tender smile.
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

In moonlight pale he saw her wink.
“Lover, dearest, you make me think.
That I would hope you come to me.
Though to another I married be.”
He whispered, “love don’t ask me this.”
And quelled her question with a kiss.

Whirlochre said...

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

James Klousia said...

A favorite of mine is "Berryman" by WS Merwin:

I especially like the last two stanzas.

Precie said...

whirlochre--Priceless. Thank goodness I wasn't drinking my coffee right then.

Ulysses said...

Anything by Shakespeare works for me, although at the moment, I'm particularly taken with the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V (Act IV, Scene III --

I'm afraid my best contributions to this branch of literature usually feature the word "Nantucket" and don't aspire much higher than bathroom-wall grafitti.

Charles Gramlich said...

"Recompense" by Robert E. Howard is currently my favorite poem:

I have not heard lutes beckon me, nor the brazen bugles call,
But once in the dim of a haunted lea I heard the silence fall.
I have not heard the regal drum, nor seen the flags unfurled,
But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world.

I have not seen the horsemen fall before the hurtling host,
But I have paced a silent hall where each step waked a ghost.
I have not kissed the tiger-feet of a strange-eyed golden god,
But I have walked a city's street where no man else had trod.

I have not raised the canopies that shelter revelling kings,
But I have fled from crimson eyes and black unearthly wings.
I have not knelt outside the door to kiss a pallid queen,
But I have seen a ghostly shore that no man else has seen.

I have not seen the standards sweep from keep and castle wall,
But I have seen a woman leap from a dragon's crimson stall,
And I have heard strange surges boom that no man heard before,
And seen a strange black city loom on a mystic night-black shore.

And I have felt the sudden blow of a nameless wind's cold breath,
And watched the grisly pilgrims go that walk the roads of Death,
And I have seen black valleys gape, abysses in the gloom,
And I have fought the deathless Ape that guards the Doors of Doom.

I have not seen the face of Pan, nor mocked the Dryad's haste,
But I have trailed a dark-eyed Man across a windy waste.
I have not died as men may die, nor sin as men have sinned,
But I have reached a misty sky upon a granite wind.

writtenwyrdd said...

Frost is one of my favorites. I also like Langston Hughes and McKeel McBride, who was my college prof.

I think Frost's Fire & Ice poem is my fav. But give me five minutes and I'll probably come up with another one.

If I can find a decent one from my college days I'll post you one.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yay for thumb drives! I found this little bugger, a prose poem about a murder. Gotta love my college aged morbidity...

The day I died, the oars were found, floating like lost ducklings among the reeds. When John raised one high, with that shout of his (Mother always said would raise the dead) the moss hung down like weepy tears. And there I was, only watching, and knowing the thoughts ran tandem through their heads, startled into surprised action by John's yell: She drowned herself... Couldn't face the consequences... Drowned herself... But John knew where to look, knew where to look and smiled into my dead face as if he knew I watched.

The Trouble With Roy said...

"Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town," e e cummings:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

(Before I stopped new posts on it because my twins hit 2, I had "August is Poetry Month" on Babies! Babies! Pets! Pets! The posts are still up, and you can find them at:

There's some great poems there.)

Philip Fullman said...

Philip Fullman

Golfers will tell you
They’ll hit 100 bad shots
to hit one
where the sweet spot of club
meets the sweet spot of the ball
making the sound you always think of
when you think of a golf ball being hit
Driving the ball straight down the fairway
The club feels so good in you hands
you forgot the last 100 shots
The one in the trees
the one you lost
taking a drop
The one you sliced so badly on 9
it hit a cart at the tee box on 8
All forgotten
ready to hit 100 more
into the sand
the rough
and the water hazard
Just to hear that sound

Poetry’s the same
you write 100 bad poems
About the girl that cheated on you
or the one you think cheated on you
but could never prove
but that’s okay because you cheated on her
That time you told her you out of town
when you were actually down the street
spending the weekend with that girl
you both work with that she can’t stand
that you want to sleep with
but act like you can’t stand
so she won’t think anything is going on
Just to write that one poem
The one you don’t cringe when you read
the one that’s as good on paper
as it was in your head
The one a reader gets
even though they had to work for it
Giving you a type of bond with them
Encouraging you to write 100 more
Abusing metaphors
comparing sailing to freedom
love to just about everything
and golf to poetry

Pamela Hammonds said...

Re: 94 by Philip F.

Love it. You need to post some more. Or tell us where to buy the book!

intact said...

One of the finest young poets today:

intact said...

Shoot. That didn't work. Here:

Anonymous said...

Re: 94 Philip F

Moonrat is wrong. We are not all poets at heart. But you've got it. So keep at it. And post more. Something for those of us who lack the poetic gene to ooh and aah about.

Anonymous said...

What Survives

Michael Blumenthal

Over the dulling years,
you write poems for hundreds of women-
about love, the impossibility of love,
the way light bounces off the edge
of a table. Those survive best-
the ones about light, that is.

Very few write back.
It's like a long correspondence
with an autistic child: Every cry's
a cause for ecstacy. The ones who do
always say something about Chopin:
How it is difficult to sleep to his music,
how the dance of your tongue to his nocturnes
seems insincere.

It could go on like this forever.
You develop theories about Jungian typology,
the specialized function of the sides of the brain.
You begin looking at furniture as if it mattered.
You reflect upon the multiple meanings of silence.

There's one consolation-
You know all this must be teaching you something.
About love.
About language.

About the light on the table.

Froog said...

Sorry, I come a bit late to this party. Sunday is typically my day for a bit of poetry on my blog. Today, I've added this old favourite.

The Son, by Clifford Dyment

I found the letter in a cardboard box,
Unfamous history. I read the words.
The ink was frail and brown, the paper dry
After so many years of being kept.
The letter was a soldier's, from the front -
Conveyed his love and disappointed hope
Of getting leave. "It's cancelled now," he wrote.
"My luck is at the bottom of the sea."

Outside the sun was hot; the world looked bright;
I heard a radio, and someone laughed.
I did not sing, or laugh, or love the sun.
Within the quiet room I thought of him,
My father killed, and all the other men,
Whose luck was at the bottom of the sea.

If you must have one of my own too.... well, here's a little piece of frivol:

The Shadow Thief

He thinks of himself as a collector
He likes shadows, collects them
He sneaks up behind people
When they're not looking
And snatches their shadows away

It is easy
People seldom look
At their shadows

He takes them home
Stores them in a cupboard
Steals and stores, steals and stores
Saves them for a sunny day

The shadows don't like the dark
They form a union
Plan an escape, break out
Together, they create the Night

Tony said...

One by John Donne, called Woman's Constancy, suggesting some reasons his lover might give for dumping him:
NOW thou hast loved me one whole day
To-morrow when thou leavest, what wilt thou say
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were?
Or that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true?
Vain lunatic, against these 'scapes I could
Dispute, and conquer, if I would;
Which I abstain to do,
For by to-morrow I may think so too.

You said you liked rhyme, so here is one of my own, in a different style:

There was a young lady called Lydia
Whose sex life just couldn't be giddier;
She cared not a rap
For the pox or the clap
But was terribly scared of chlamydia.

Froog said...

I hope it isn't too narcissistic of me to leave two (three!) offerings.... and to drag my new blog-buddy Tony over here as well (by the way, everyone, read his blog).... but I rather like this little thing about the experience of reading poetry. My friend, The Poet, about the best writer I know (though, alas, she is "far too busy" to have any time for blogs), said this was about her favourite of all the stuff of mine I've shown her.

Slow Boil

A poem is like the watched pot of the proverb
It doesn't like to be seen going about its business
If you fix it with your stare
It will grow obstinate, impassive, inert

But let it lie unheeded
Attend to something else awhile
And soon enough the kitchen of your mind
Grows dense with steam
The singing of the kettle-whistle
The possibility of tea

When I was a teacher, I always hated the idea that for the kids literature - and especially poetry! - so easily became just "work", just an excuse for exercises and discussions and comprehension questions and essays; it was never allowed to be just reading, just FUN. So, one of the little tricks I adopted was to fairly regularly (not every class, or even every week, but two or three times a term) give out a poem, short or long, at the end of a class, and when the students clamoured to know if there was homework to be set on it, or questions in the end-of-term exam, or analysis in the next class, I'd just say, "No. Nothing. You don't need to answer any questions on it. You don't need to bring to class next time. I don't even insist that you read it. I'll never mention it again. I just hope that you will keep it. And that you might choose to read it sometime. And that you might one day come to understand and enjoy it. And if you'd like to ask me anything about it in private, that's fine; but, really, we are never going to discuss it in class. It's just a bit of fun."

It took some of the kids an awfully long time to get used to the idea. And I'm not sure if it really did any good. One can but hope....