Time for another recap of the best poems I’ve read in the past few months or so, methinks. I read A LOT of Bukowski and Tony Hoagland this past month or so, if that means anything.
Personal (Tony Hoagland)
Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—
the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,
the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me
and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.
The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,
and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.
Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk
Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts
but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;
I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,
I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back
and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries
like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.
Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?
You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.
I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:
trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.
The Secret (Bukowski)
don’t worry, nobody has the
beautiful lady, not really, and
nobody has the strange and
hidden power, nobody is
exceptional or wonderful or
magic, they only seem to be
it’s all a trick, an in, a con,
don’t buy it, don’t believe it.
the world is packed with
billions of people whose lives
and deaths are useless and
when one of these jumps up
and the light of history shines
upon them, forget it, it’s not
what it seems, it’s just
another act to fool the fools
there are no strong men, there
are no beautiful women.
at least, you can die knowing
and you will have
the only possible
The Laughing Heart (Bukowski, again)
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
From Phillip Larkin’s “Going, Going”:
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last.
Nobody Can Save You But Yourself (Bukowski, again… told you it was that kind of month!)
nobody can save you but
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it
think about it
think about saving your self
your spiritual self
your gut self
your singing magical self and
your beautiful self
don’t join the dead-in-spirit
maintain your self
with humor and grace
wager your life as you struggle,
damn the odds, damn
nobody can save you but yourself
from “One Season” by Tony Hoagland:
Looking back, I can see
that I came through
in the spastic, furtive, half-alive manner
of accident survivors. Fuck anyone
who says I could have done it
differently. Though now I find myself
returning to the scene
as if the pain I fled
were the only place that I had left to go;
as if my love, whatever kind it was, or is,
were still trapped beneath the wreckage
of that year,
and I was one of those angry firemen
having to go back into the burning house;
climbing a ladder
through the heavy smoke and acrid smell
of my own feelings,
as if they were the only
goddamn thing worth living for.
Other poems I read and liked:
“So You Want To Be A Writer” (Bukowski)
“The Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII” (Rilke, every blogger’s favorite poet to quote)
“Survival Poem #17” (Marty McConnell)
“The Applicant” (Sylvia Plath) (basically summarizes how I feel about all modern relationships!)
“For the Dead” (Adrienne Rich) (another good relationship poem)
“A Callarse” (Neruda) (first read this in English at my writing workshop and found it very moving)
“Originally” (Carol Ann Duffy) (written by a Scottish poet who moved to England as a child, I find this an excellent summary of my own life and multi-home dilemma/situation)
“The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer,” “What We Need is Here” (Wendell Berry, always good)