Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Elsie by William Carlos Williams : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

To Elsie by William Carlos Williams : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

from the previous blog

After I’m done pleading with the steering wheel,
after I’m done screaming at the white doors
of the Friendship Inn, no, even while I’m spitting

and howling, I know, yes, this is the way
we find out about ourselves: crying in rental cars
in parking lots in strange cities that are already

too familiar. The huge ship in front of you, 
don’t you hope it will soon disembark? Don’t you
hate hotels? Don’t you hate to travel

just to see the same old pockmarks and limps,
the weight carried below the waist 
and above? Just look at what we have done

to ourselves, and topped it off with a club sandwich,
a scribble of neon. I’m wailing
like some foreigner in a foreign country

we don’t give a shit about because how could we
understand something as subtle as the mutilation
of ears and lips? Please, I beg you,

perform some crazy rite over me so things can either
finally dissolve or finally become solid.
Please, I need something primitive and complex

to relieve me of this world subdivided into better
and better ways to avoid life. Sicker
and sicker ways. Death cruising
down 90. Laughing. Sweetheart, Death is the least of it.

I’m in a parking lot in Spokane reintroducing myself 
to myself. I’m feeling like throwing up.
In a parking lot in Spokane I am resolving

to read Nietzsche, to pierce and tattoo myself,
in a parking lot I’m determining things
about my labia and nose and heart.

- Olena Kalytiak Davis

Post Title.02/20/2010

My heart's aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it's throbbing!

then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.

I love you. I love you,
but I'm turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.

Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,

and I'll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.

Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick

with bloody blows on its head.
I embraced a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.

That's funny! there's blood on my chest
oh yes, I've been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again. 


She turns her head 
to breathe the morning air
bright April on her
      pale face
and yellow hair

Hey look! they turn
from their horseplay
Look! reminiscent of the
striking by day

As one who has come
from dancing
half naked under lights
      she plucks
her clothes about her
and fights to seem
indifferent before the
overpowering mastery
      of this
garish dream

-William Carlos Williams
North American Sequence



On things asleep, no balm:
A kingdom of stinks and sighs,
Fetor of cockroaches, dead fish, petroleum,
Worse than castoreum of mink or weasels,
Saliva dripping from warm microphones,
Agony of crucifixion on barstools.
      Less and less the illuminated lips,
      Hands active, eyes cherished;
      Happiness left to dogs and children--
      (Matters only a saint mentions!)
Lust fatigues the soul.
How to transcend this sensual emptiness?
(Dreams drain the spirit if we dream too long.)
In a bleak time, when a week of rain is a year,
The slag-heaps fume at the edge of the raw cities:
The gulls wheel over their singular garbage;
The great trees no longer shimmer;
Not even the soot dances.
And the spirit fails to move forward,
  But shrinks into a half-life, less than itself,
Falls back, a slug, a loose worm
Ready for any crevice,
An eyeless starer.
A wretch needs his wretchedness. Yes.
O pride, thou art a plume upon whose head?
How comprehensive that felicity! . . .
A body with the motion of a soul.
What dream's enough to breathe in? A dark dream.
The rose exceeds, the rose exceeds us all.
Who'd think the moon could pare itself so thin?
A great flame rises from the sunless sea;
The light cries out, and I am there to hear--
I'd be beyond; I'd be beyond the moon,
Bare as a bud, and naked as a worm.
To this extent I'm a stalk. 
  --How free; how all alone.
Out of these nothings
  --All beginnings come.
I would with the fish, the blackening salmon, and the mad lemmings,
The children dancing, the flowers widening.
Who sighs from far away?
I would unlearn the lingo of exasperation, all the distortions of malice 
        and hatred;
I would believe my pain: and the eye quiet on the growing rose;
I would delight in my hands, the branch singing, altering the excessive 
I long for the imperishable quiet at the heart of form;
I would be a stem, winding between great striated rocks in the late
A leaf, I would love the leaves, delighting in the redolent disorder of
        this mortal life,
This ambush, this silence,
Where shadow can change into flame,
And the dark be forgotten.
I have left the body of the whale, but the mouth of the night is still
On the bullhead, in the Dakotas, where the eagles eat well,
In the country of few lakes, in the tall buffalo grass at the base of the
        clay buttes.
In the summer heat, I can smell the dead buffalo,
The stench of their damp fur drying in the sun,
The buffalo chips drying.
  Old men should be explorers?
  I'll be an Indian.


Over the low, barnacled, elephant-colored rocks,
Come the first tide-ripples, moving almost without sound, toward
Running along the narrow furrows of the shore, the rows of dead clam
Then a runnel behind me, creeping closer,
Alive with tiny striped fish, and young crabs climbing in and out of
        the water.
No sound from the bay. No violence.
Even the gulls quiet on the far rocks,
Silent, in the deepening light,
Their cat-mewing over,
Their child-whimpering.
At last one long undulant ripple,
Blue-black from where I am sitting,
Makes almost a wave over a barrier of small stones,
Slapping lightly against a sunken log.
I dabble my toes in the brackish foam sliding forward,
Then retire to a rock higher up on the cliff-side.
The wind slackens, light as a moth fanning a stone:
A twilight wind, light as a child's breath
Turning not a leaf, not a ripple.
The dew revives on the beach-grass;
A fish raven turns on its perch (a dead tree in the rivermouth),
Its wings catching a last glint of the reflected sunlight.
The self persists like a dying star,
In sleep, afraid. Death's face rises afresh,
Among the shy beasts, the deer at the salt-lick,
The doe with its sloped shoulders loping across the highway,
The young snake, poised in green leaves, waiting for its fly,
The hummingbird, whirring from quince-blossom to morning-glory--
With these I would be.
And with water: the waves coming forward, without cessation,
The waves, altered by sand-bars, beds of kelp, miscellaneous driftwood,
Topped by cross-winds, tugged at by sinuous undercurrents
The tide rustling in, sliding between the ridges of stone, 
The tongues of water, creeping in, quietly.
In this hour,
In this first hour of knowing,
The flesh takes on the pure poise of spirit,
Acquires, for a time, the sandpiper's insouciance,
The hummingbird's surety, the kingfisher's cunning--
I shift on my rock, and I think:
Of the first trembling of a Michigan brook in April,
Over a lip of stone, the tiny rivulet;
And that wrist-thick cascade tumbling from a cleft rock,
Its spray holding a double rain-bow in early morning,
Small enough to be taken in, embraced by two arms,--
Or the Tittebawasee, in the time between winter and spring,
When the ice melts along the edges in early afternoon.
And the midchannel begins cracking and heaving from the pressure
The ice piling high against the iron-bound spikes,
Gleaming, freezing hard again, creaking at midnight--
And I long for the blast of dynamite,
The sudden sucking roar as the culvert loosens its debris of branches
         and sticks,
Welter of tin cans, pails, old bird nests, a child's shoe riding a log,
As the piled ice breaks away from the battered spiles,
And the whole river begins to move forward, its bridges shaking.
Now, in this waning of light,
I rock with the motion of morning;
In the cradle of all that is,
I'm lulled into half-sleep
By the lapping of water,
Cries of the sandpiper.
Water's my will, and my way,
And the spirit runs, intermittently,
In and out of the small waves,
Runs with the intrepid shorebirds--
How graceful the small before danger!
In the first of the moon,
All's a scattering,
A shining.