Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wild Geese

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep
by Russell Edson
A scientist has a test tube full of sheep. He
wonders if he should try to shrink a pasture
for them.
They are like grains of rice.
He wonders if it is possible to shrink something
out of existence.
He wonders if the sheep are aware of their tininess,
if they have any sense of scale. Perhaps they think
the test tube is a glass barn …
He wonders what he should do with them; they
certainly have less meat and wool than ordinary
sheep. Has he reduced their commercial value?
He wonders if they could be used as a substitute
for rice, a sort of wolly rice …
He wonders if he shouldn’t rub them into a red paste
between his fingers.
He wonders if they are breeding, or if any of them
have died.
He puts them under a microscope, and falls asleep
counting them...

Letter to a Stranger

Letter to a Stranger
by Tina Chang

Dear Father,

I drifted on the bouquet of your red tongue
for two years. It was a kingdom, the stadium
of your face. I took sweets from a sealed jar
when mother wasn't looking. I grew up on the back steps of St. Mary's
where I learned to scream at kitten boys that didn't do
what I said. We took the body and the blood in time. It is possible
to be divine in one afternoon.

A girl kneels on pebbles to feel the roughness that will change her destiny.

When you died, Vincent started his fascination with glass:
its world of definites. Cut or uncut. Severed or whole. It is the year 2000
and all our failures are tangible. Vincent is 30 and carries a pistol
wrapped in a powder-blue handkerchief. He will use it
on the clocks, the countenance of apples, the delicate house
of some girl's throat still dripping with wine.

Let me sleep now, in the shelter, in the halt. Stop.

At your burial, I dropped carnations into the big earth. Mother pulled
me along by the sleeve. Now there is the sound of great thunder
as the brothers come running through the house, their boots cracking
the surface of things, fuck you's dropping from their fat lips.

One organ persists alone. Three notes repeating and repeating.

I am governed by terror, sleeplessness, nostalgia.
Mother of God helps me out with my daily chores. I capture heat
in a rusted pot, smooth the bed sheets with a hammer, take up the hours
with my veined hands. Father, there are magnificent shadows
engraving themselves onto the dinner table. I keep thinking
that you are telling me to go. Let me sleep
and dream of the falling architecture of this house, transform it
into an imitation of heaven. My eyes are closed, two razors.

Dear Father, What kind of music is coming from me? What kind?

Chopin Bukowski

Chopin Bukowski
By Charles Bukowski

this is my piano.

the phone rings and people ask,
what are you doing? how about
getting drunk with us?

and I say,
I’m at my piano.

what?

I’m at my piano.

I hang up.

people need me. I fill
them. if they can’t see me
for a while they get desperate, they get
sick.

But if I see them too often
I get sick. it’s hard to feed
without getting fed.

my piano says things back to
me.

sometimes the things are
scrambled and not very good.
other times
I get as good and lucky as
Chopin.

sometimes I get out of practice
out of tune. that’s
all right.

I can sit down and vomit on the
keys
but it’s my
vomit.

it’s better than sitting in a room
with 3 or 4 people and
their pianos.

this is my piano
and it is better than theirs.

and they like it and they do not
like it.

Final Night at the Sunset Drive-In

Final Night at the Sunset Drive-In
by Kristy Bowen

And what else to do with a girl
with a mouth like a dirty book,
a burnt-out car. Blue limbs

tangling the windshield and every-
thing tilted and still. This isn’t porno,
it’s a love story--tongues everywhere

and desultory lines. A woman on
the screen keens like a broken radio.
This one tastes like Americana,

the burnished chrome of dashboard
instruments. Flip-flopped hat-check girl,
her skirt fussy and florid over her face.

Her breath, all orange crush and flicker.

Theme for English B

Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes

The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me---who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white---
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me---
although you're older---and white---
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.