Twelve Great Poems
In the almost eighteen years we've been online,
we've posted well over 500 poems.
As always, we strive to offer
the rare and unknown ---
poems that have slipped through the cracks.
Here are a dozen of our favorites.
Five Ways to Kill a Man
< André BretonThere are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.
Water PictureIn the pond in the park
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and
wriggle gently. Chimneys
are bent legs bouncing
on clouds below. A flag
wags like a fishhook
down there in the sky.Bowl
(Gotham)My American pants are hanging over the chair
in the corner with your Korean dress.
Over there they can decide foreign policy.
But here we are like two spoons you and I
in the same warm bowl,
Buddhas bowl, where we, too
can barely open our eyes
having discovered the
sweetness of one tongue...
Where I Live
< Günter EichWhen I opened the window
fishes swam into the room,
herrings. A school of them
must just have been passing.
I saw some playing among the pear trees as well
There were more of them in the woods,
over the conifer plantations and gravel-pits.
Joseph BrodskyEighteen years I've spent in Manhattan.
The landlord was good, but he turned bad.
A scumbag, actually. Man, I hate him.
Money is green, but it flows like blood.
I guess I've got to move across the river.
New Jersey beckons with its sulphur glow.
Glaucoma Love Poem
Reneé GisellSoon you'll be reading to me
Do my banking for me
(Slipping checks past me?)
You'll be my look-out at the beach
Tell me who is passing:
The girls in bikinis,
The boys in muscles,
The old who can still separate dark from light,
And above all, the sun expiring
A turquoise dot at the very edge
Of seeing (that I must no longer see).
Paul MuldoonI remember the first time he came back
The Master had sent him out
Along the hedges
To weigh up for himself and cut
A stick with which he would be beaten.
After a while, nothing was spoken;
He would arrive as a matter of course
With an ash-plant, a salley-rod.
Or, finally, the hazel-wand
He had whittled down to a whip-lash,
Its twist of red and yellow lacquers
Sanded and polished,
And altogether so delicately wrought
That he had engraved his initials on it.
How Poor A Thing Is Man
< Homero AridjisI was born on the corner
of Poverty and Injustice
my parents were Dignity
always at the palace gates
of Madame Rectitude
ever since I was very young
I learned to eat air
and to appreciate the Unseen
in the School of Privation
The UnderneathI keep a pet woman under my bed.
and feisty, with sharp teeth.
I make her
wear all the clothes I hate;
high heels, garter belts, clingy velour.
I feed her chocolate and wine from a box.
She glares at me as she twirls
the curling iron through her brown hair.
I let her out once a week for a bubble bath.
A Bird Is Singing
<Guillaume ApollinaireSomewhere out there a bird is singing
I believe he is your own soul waiting
Somewhere among the rag-tag infantry
And his singing delights me
Everywhere he delights me
All the time the whole week long
Listen he is singing right now and tenderly
On the barest branch of an invisible tree
How can I make words show
A strange change of soul
Into notes and branches
A change of heart into sky and roses
His Father Rebukes Him Again
And Also Pleads a Little
< Amos OzListen carefully. This is your father speaking. A simple man,
a rather grey man, and so on and so forth, but still your father. The only one
you have, and that's something your irony can't change.
That cheap woman you're with may let off
fireworks in bed, I'm not an expert in such matters
and I'm sorry to mention it, but fireworks
go out and time is drying up and the summer is over and you are
not back. The summer is over the autumn is gone and what about you,
where are you? Shrouded in fog in limbo in the arms
of a whore. It's lucky your mother --- well, never mind. Don't hang up.
Just a minute. Listen to me...
English Con Salsa
<Gina ValdésWelcome to ESL 100, English Surely Latinized,
inglés con chile y cilantro, English as American
as Benito Juárez. Welcome, muchachos from Xochicalco,
learn the language of dólares and dolores, of kings and queens, of Donald Duck and Batman. Holy Toluca!
In four months you'll be speaking like George Washington,
in four weeks you can ask. More coffee? In two months
you can say. May I take your order? In one year you
can ask for a raise, cool as the Tuxpan river.
First Poem for You
<Kim AddonizioI like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can't see them. I'm sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon.
Howard NemerovThe bearded goldfish move about the bowl
Waving disheveled rags of elegant fin
Languidly in the light; their mandarin
Manner of life, weary and cynical,
Rebukes the round world that has kept them in
Glass bubbles with a mythological
Decor of Rhineland castles on a shoal
Of pebbles pink and green. Like light in gin...