10 Apr 2011

My Heart Is in My Pocket.

Written by sally @ 1:40 pm — Section: Uncategorized

It’s just a little unclear to me why Frank O’Hara and I weren’t better friends until now.

A Step Away From Them

It’s my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored
cabs. First, down the sidewalk
where laborers feed their dirty
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets
on. They protect them from falling
bricks, I guess. Then onto the
avenue where skirts are flipping
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the
cabs stir up the air. I look
at bargains in wristwatches. There
are cats playing in sawdust.
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.
Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of
Federico Fellini, è bell’ attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.
There are several Puerto
Ricans on the avenue today, which
makes it beautiful and warm. First
Bunny died, then John Latouche,
then Jackson Pollock. But is the
earth as full as life was full, of them?
And one has eaten and one walks,
past the magazines with nudes
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,
which they’ll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
Show there.
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

–Frank O’Hara

9 Apr 2011

O You.

Written by sally @ 1:36 pm — Section: Uncategorized


Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it’s no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn’t need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn’t want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

–Frank O’Hara

8 Apr 2011

I Knew That Sugar Was Love.

Written by sally @ 7:17 am — Section: sally

Sugar Cane

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their color is a diabolic dye.”
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refined, and join the angelic train.

–Phillis Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America”

The mother bending over a baby named Shug
chuckles, “Gimme some sugar,” just to preface
a flurry of kisses sweet as sugar cane.
Later, when she stirs a spoonful of Domino
into her coffee, who’s to tell the story
how a ten-foot-tall reed from the Old World,
on being brought to the New, was raised and cropped
so cooks could sweeten whatever tasted bitter?
Or how grade-A granulated began as a thick
black syrup boiled for hours in an iron vat
until it was refined to pure, white crystal.

When I was a child whose payoff for obeying
orders was red-and-white-striped candy canes,
I knew that sugar was love.
The first time someone called me “sweetheart,”
I knew sugar was love.
And when I tasted my slice of the wedding cake,
iced white and washed down with sweet champagne,
don’t you know sugar was love.

One day Evelina who worked for us
showed up with her son Bubba and laughed,
“Now y’all can play together.” He had a sweet
nature, but even so we raised a little Cain,
and Daddy told her not to bring him back.
He thought I’d begun to sound like colored people.
She smiled, dropped her eyes, kept working.
And kept putting on weight. She later died of stroke.
Daddy developed diabetes by age fifty-five,
insulin burned what his blood couldn’t handle.
Chronic depressions I have, a nutritionist
gently termed “the sugar blues,” but damned
if any lyrics come out of them, baby.

Black-and-white negatives from a picture
history of the sugar trade develop
in my dreams, a dozen able-bodied slaves
hacking forward through a field of cane.
Sweat trickles down from forehead into eye
as they sheave up stalks and cart them to the mill
where grinding iron rollers will express a thin
sucrose solution that, when not refined,
goes from blackstrap molasses on into rum,
a demon conveniently negotiable for slaves.
The master under the impression he owned
these useful properties naturally never thought
of offering them a piece of the wedding cake,
the big white house that bubbling brown sugar built
and paid for, unnaturally processed by Domino.

Phillis Wheatley said the sweet Christ was brought
here from Asia Minor to redeem an African child
and maybe her master’s soul as well. She wrote
as she lived, a model of refinement, yes,
but black as Abel racing through the canebrake,
demon bloodhounds baying in pursuit,
until at last his brother caught him,
expressed his rage, and rode back home to dinner.
Tell it to Fats Domino, to those who live
on Sugar Hill, tell it to unsuspecting Shug
as soon as she is old enough to hear it.

One day Evelina’s son waved goodbye
and climbed on board a northbound train,
black angels guiding him invisibly.
In class he quoted a sentence from Jean Toomer:
“Time and space have no meaning in a canefield.”
My father died last fall at eighty-one.
Love’s bitter, child, as often as it’s sweet.
Mm-mm, I sure do have the blues today:
Baby, will you give me some sugar?

lfred Corn, “Sugar Cane” from Present (Washington: Counterpoint Press, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Alfred Corn. Totally swiped from the Poetry Foundation.

7 Apr 2011

Lost Battles.

Written by sally @ 3:10 pm — Section: sally

Gorjus has made a new zine! It’s called Lost Battles. There are some stories in it. I wrote a couple! If you live in Jaxxon, go to Sneaky Beans and buy one for $5. OR if you live anywhere else, you can win one* by leaving a comment! I have a few to give away, so say something about something or another and I will send you one in the U.S. mail, unless you are Larry, in which case I strongly encourage you not to participate in this contest.

Best comment(s) wins! “Best” is determined by my brain.

*Full disclosure: I totally just typed “you can win won…” WIN WON!

Lock That Kitchen Door.

Written by sally @ 7:41 am — Section: sally

Ok, this is the last of the One Time I Put Some Tennessee Williams Poems on a Mix Tape poems.

Kitchen Door Blues

My old lady died of a common cold.
She smoked cigars and was ninety years old.
She was thin as paper with the ribs of a kite,
And she flew out the kitchen door one night.

Now I’m no younger’n the old lady was
When she lost gravitation, and I smoke cigars.
I feel sort of peaked, an’ I look kinda pore,
So for God’s sake, lock that kitchen door!

–Tennessee Williams

I’m available to recite this at parties if you want. (In the Winter of Cities, page 105.)

6 Apr 2011

While the Lonesome Stars Rolled Past.

Written by sally @ 12:41 pm — Section: sally

I mentioned a few years ago that in high school, I checked out a cassette tape of Tennessee Williams reading his poems and put some of them on a mix tape. (It seemed perfectly normal at the time. I understand know that my fate as a Mississippi research emporiumist was sealed from the beginning.) This was one of the poems, and I was always struck by the sadness in his voice when he reads the line about his mother. He seems truly sorry.

Heavenly Grass

My feet took a walk in heavenly grass.
All day while the sky shone clear as glass.
My feet took a walk in heavenly grass,
All night while the lonesome stars rolled past.
Then my feet come down to walk on earth,
And my mother cried when she give me birth.
Now my feet walk far and my feet walk fast,
But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.
But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.

–Tennessee Williams

from In the Winter of Cities, New Directions, 1964. Page 101.

5 Apr 2011

No Really It’s Just About a Leaf.

Written by sally @ 3:46 pm — Section: sally

I am only including this old fashioned poem because I thought the explanation was so boringly funny. The author was writing a book about Thomas Hardy and heard a leaf hopping along the hallway. Then he went out to look at it and it was just a leaf, not a ghost. Then he wrote this poem. The end.

Thoughts of Thomas Hardy
“Are you looking for someone, you who come pattering
Along this empty corridor, dead leaf, to my door,
And before I had noticed that leaves were now dying?”

“No, nobody; but the way was open.
The wind blew that way.
There was no other way.
And why your question?”

“O, I felt I saw someone with forehead bent downward
At the sound of your coming,
And he in that sound
Looked aware of a vaster threne* of decline,
And considering a law of all life.
Yet he lingered, one lovingly regarding
Your particular fate and experience, poor leaf.”

–Edmund Blunden


from Poet’s Choice, of course, but I think I’m about done with it now. Page 31.

4 Apr 2011

We Love You. Get Up.

Written by sally @ 7:03 am — Section: Uncategorized

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I love this. I keep reading it and laughing.

Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]
by Frank O’Hara

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

3 Apr 2011

What He Fears Most He Must Do.

Written by sally @ 7:55 pm — Section: sally

I guarantee that if I had been told that this poem sprouted in Elizabeth Bishop’s head from a typo in the New York Times, I would’ve paid more attention to it in school.

The Man-Moth

Here, above,
cracks in the buldings are filled with battered moonlight.
The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.
It lies at his feet like a circle for a doll to stand on,
and he makes an inverted pin, the point magnetized to the moon.
He does not see the moon; he observes only her vast properties,
feeling the queer light on his hands, neither warm nor cold,
of a temperature impossible to records in thermometers.

But when the Man-Moth
pays his rare, although occasional, visits to the surface,
the moon looks rather different to him. He emerges
from an opening under the edge of one of the sidewalks
and nervously begins to scale the faces of the buildings.
He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky,
proving the sky quite useless for protection.
He trembles, but must investigate as high as he can climb.

Up the façades,
his shadow dragging like a photographer’s cloth behind him
he climbs fearfully, thinking that this time he will manage
to push his small head through that round clean opening
and be forced through, as from a tube, in black scrolls on the light.
(Man, standing below him, has no such illusions.)
But what the Man-Moth fears most he must do, although
he fails, of course, and falls back scared but quite unhurt.

Then he returns
to the pale subways of cement he calls his home. He flits,
he flutters, and cannot get aboard the silent trains
fast enough to suit him. The doors close swiftly.
The Man-Moth always seats himself facing the wrong way
and the train starts at once at its full, terrible speed,
without a shift in gears or a gradation of any sort.
He cannot tell the rate at which he travels backwards.

Each night he must
be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams.
Just as the ties recur beneath his train, these underlie
his rushing brain. He does not dare look out the window,
for the third rail, the unbroken draught of poison,
runs there beside him. He regards it as a disease
he has inherited the susceptibility to. He has to keep
his hands in his pockets, as others must wear mufflers.

If you catch him,
hold up a flashlight to his eye. It’s all dark pupil,
an entire night itself, whose haired horizon tightens
as he stares back, and closes up the eye. Then from the lids
one tear, his only possession, like the bee’s sting, slips.
Slyly he palms it, and if you’re not paying attention
he’ll swallow it. However, if you watch, he’ll hand it over,
cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink.

–Elizabeth Bishop

Comment from Elizabeth Bishop: “This poem was written in 1935 when I first lived in New York City.

I’ve forgotten what it was that was supposed to be ‘mammoth.’ But the misprint seemed meant for me. An oracle spoke from the page of the New York Times, kindly explaining New York City to me, at least for a moment.

One is offered such oracular statements all the time, but often misses them, gets lazy about writing them out in detail, or the meaning refuses to stay put. This poem seems to me to have stayed put fairly well — but as Fats Waller used to say, ‘One never knows, do one?'”

from Poet’s Choice: 103 of the Greatest Living Poets Choose Their Favorite Poem from Their Own Work and Give the Reason for Their Choice. Ed. Paul Engle and Joseph Langland. New York: The Dial, 1962. p. 103-105.

2 Apr 2011

There Is No Happiness Like Mine.

Written by sally @ 7:51 pm — Section: Uncategorized

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 burn 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,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

1 Apr 2011


Written by sally @ 1:30 am — Section: sally

You didn’t think you were going to get away with no poems this year, did you?

Like a phoenix et cetera, I give you the EIGHTH annual Oh Really National Poetry Month Celebration, At Least I Think It’s Eight Years Why the Hell Not Let’s Just Say It’s Eight Years Why Don’t We.

I found this great book called Poet’s Choice — poets were asked which of their own poems was their favorite, and to then write a little ditty about it. Most (like Robert Frost) are all “who kez which is my favorite here is one that will do whatevs” but some play along. Let’s start with Leonard Cohen!

For Anne

With Annie gone
Whose eyes to compare
With the morning sun?

Not that I did compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

Ditty from Leonard Cohen: “I want to write and read poems filled with terror and music that change laws and lives. This isn’t one of them. But it has stuck with me long enough, like a lucky stone, to suggest that it’s true.”

from Poet’s Choice: 103 of the Greatest Living Poets Choose Their Favorite Poem from Their Own Work and Give the Reason for Their Choice. Ed. Paul Engle and Joseph Langland. New York: The Dial, 1962. p. 291.

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