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Think in the Morning posts a poem with a sample of napkin art on our Facebook Page every day.  This is the 9th post on our website of accumulated poems.  Other poems and links can be found HERE:  Poems – 7

 

 

Tired And Unhappy, You Think Of Houses

Delmore Schwartz

 

Tired and unhappy, you think of houses

Soft-carpeted and warm in the December evening,

While snow’s white pieces fall past the window,

And the orange firelight leaps.

A young girl sings

That song of Gluck where Orpheus pleads with Death;

Her elders watch, nodding their happiness

To see time fresh again in her self-conscious eyes:

The servants bring in the coffee, the children go to bed,

Elder and younger yawn and go to bed,

The coals fade and glow, rose and ashen,

It is time to shake yourself! and break this

Banal dream, and turn your head

Where the underground is charged, where the weight

Of the lean building is seen,

Where close in the subway rush,

anonymous 
In the audience, well-dressed or mean,

So many surround you, ringing your fate,

Caught in an anger exact as a machine!

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist

 

The Art of Disappearing

Naomi Shihab Nye

 

When they say Don’t I know you?

say no.

When they invite you to the party

remember what parties are like

before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice

they once wrote a poem.

Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.

Then reply.

If they say We should get together

say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.

You’re trying to remember something

too important to forget.

Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.

Tell them you have a new project.

It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store

nod briefly and become a cabbage.

When someone you haven’t seen in ten years

appears at the door,

don’t start singing him all your new songs.

You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.

Know you could tumble any second.

Then decide what to do with your time.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Estelle Grunewald artrist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Estelle Grunewald artrist

 

Autumn

T. E. Hulme

 

A touch of cold in the Autumn night –

I walked abroad,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge

Like a red-faced farmer.

I did not stop to speak, but nodded,

And round about were the wistful stars

With white faces like town children.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, e. lyzard musser artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, e. lyzard musser artist

 

Sweet Like a Crow

Michael Ondaatje

for Hetti Corea, 8 years old

 

The Sinhalese are beyond a doubt one of the least musical people in the world.
It would be quite impossible to have less sense of pitch, line or rhythm.
- Paul Bowles

 

Your voice sounds like a scorpion being pushed

through a glass tube

like someone has just trod on a peacock

like wind howling in a coconut

like a rusty bible, like someone pulling barbed wire

across a stone courtyard, like a pig drowning,

a vattacka being fried

a bone shaking hands

a frog singing at Carnegie Hall.

Like a crow swimming in milk,

like a nose being hit by a mango

like the crowd at the Royal-Thomian match,

a womb full of twins, a pariah dog

with a magpie in its mouth

like the midnight jet from Casablanca

like Air Pakistan curry,

a typewriter on fire, like a hundred

pappadans being crunched, like someone

trying to light matches in a dark room,

the clicking sound of a reef when you put your head into the sea,

a dolphin reciting epic poetry to a sleepy audience,

the sound of a fan when someone throws brinjals at it,

like pineapples being sliced in the Pettah market

like betel juice hitting a butterfly in mid-air

like a whole village running naked onto the street

and tearing their sarongs, like an angry family

pushing a jeep out of the mud, like dirt on the needle,

like 8 sharks being carried on the back of a bicycle

like 3 old ladies locked in the lavatory

like the sound I heard when having an afternoon sleep

and someone walked through my room in ankle bracelets.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

 

Proust’s Madeleine

Kenneth Rexroth

 

Somebody has given my

Baby daughter a box of

Old poker chips to play with.

Today she hands me one while

I am sitting with my tired

Brain at my desk. It is red.

On it is a picture of

An elk’s head and the letters

B.P.O.E.—a chip from

A small town Elks’ Club. I flip

It idly in the air and

Catch it and do a coin trick

To amuse my little girl.

Suddenly everything slips aside.

I see my father

Doing the very same thing,

Whistling “Beautiful Dreamer,”

His breath smelling richly

Of whiskey and cigars. I can

Hear him coming home drunk

From the Elks’ Club in Elkhart

Indiana, bumping the

Chairs in the dark. I can see

Him dying of cirrhosis

Of the liver and stomach

Ulcers and pneumonia,

Or, as he said on his deathbed, of

Crooked cards and straight whiskey,

Slow horses and fast women.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist

 

Vacating an Apartment

Agha Shahid Ali

1.

Efficient as Fate,

each eye a storm trooper,

the cleaners wipe my smile

with Comet fingers

and tear the plaster

off my suicide note.

They learn everything

from the walls’ eloquent tongues.

Now, quick as genocide,

they powder my ghost for a cinnamon jar.

They burn my posters

(India and Heaven in flames),

whitewash my voice stains,

make everything new,

clean as Death.

 

2

When the landlord brings new tenants,

even Memory is a stranger.

The woman, her womb solid with the future,

instructs her husband’s eyes

to clutch insurance policies.

They ignore my love affair with the furniture,

the corner table that memorized

my crossed-out lines.

Oh, she’s beautiful,

a hard-nippled Madonna.

The landlord gives them my autopsy;

they sign the lease.

The room is beating with bottled infants,

and I’ve stopped beating.

I’m moving out holding tombstones in my hands.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, James Maxwell artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, James Maxwell artist

 

The Truth Teller

 

When I was five years old

I slipped into my brother’s bed

Or, he slipped into mine.

He will remember.

He remembers everything.

 

We used to lie in bed together and talk

About the grasshoppers I had killed

Or that story he told about the Albatross.

These are personal things

Hard to explain.

 

He made up a football game with colored paper squares

That we played together on the floor

Just the two of us.

Neither of us knew who would win until the fourth quarter

Because of the Hail Mary.

 

Once he hit me with a rock and I ran bleeding.

When he got to me I was still crying.

He put his hand on my forehead.

He says everything is okay.

I believe him.

He’s a truth teller.

 

DHJ

 

The Partial Explanation

Charles Simic

 

Seems like a long time

Since the waiter took my order.

Grimy little luncheonette,

The snow falling outside.

 

Seems like it has grown darker

Since I last heard the kitchen door

Behind my back

Since I last noticed

Anyone pass on the street.

 

A glass of ice-water

Keeps me company

At this table I chose myself

Upon entering.

 

And a longing,

Incredible longing

To eavesdrop

On the conversation

Of cooks.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Efroym artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Efroym artist

 

Work Without Hope

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair —

The bees are stirring — birds are on the wing

–
And Winter slumbering in the open air,

Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,

Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

 

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,

Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.

Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,

For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!

With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:

And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?

Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,

And Hope without an object cannot live.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

 

Leisure

William Henry Davies

 

WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,

And stare as long as sheep and cows:

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance:

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began?

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, RTS artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, RTS artist

 

In the Insect Room

Gillian Clarke

 

A drawer of butterflies,

each impaled on the tiny stilt of its pin,

as numerous as those quivering, alive

in the colonies on Cors Llawr Cwrt, larvae

that live on Devil’s Bit Scabious on the bog.

They hunger, eat, belong, mate, breed and die.

 

I love their language, pupae, chrysallis,

the coloured oculi that dot their wings,

their almost symmetry, their beauty

nourished on buttercup, betony, bugle,

sprung from the hoof-prints of grazing cattle

on wetland and marsh.

 

Though none here stir, they could be alive.

If I gaze long enough, they move.

 

Trapped like the Snowdon Lily when ice lost its grip

as loosening glaciers began to slip,

mountains gave way with a slow, deep groan,

scouring valleys from the tuffs and ash

of old upheavals, this creature went its own way

to survive on Snowdon’s western flanks

feeding on flowers of the wild thyme.

 

Genetically distinct, a jewel,

its elytra striped with emerald, copper, gold,

precious metals of the mountain’s heart,

blue of the inky llyn, the colour of slate

in rain.

 

What’s beauty for, but to disguise

a beetle as a waterdrop to hold

Snowdonia in a carapace of gold?

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Karen Kessler artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Karen Kessler artist

 

Renegade

Kate Tempest

 

 

Before We Were Born

Nikola Madzirov

(translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid)

 

The streets were asphalted

before we were born and all

the constellations were already formed.

The leaves were rotting

on the edge of the pavement,

the silver was tarnishing

on the workers’ skin,

someone’s bones were growing through

the length of the sleep.

Europe was uniting

before we were born and

a woman’s hair was spreading

calmly over the surface

of the sea.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist

 

The Past

Ha Jin

 

I have supposed my past is part of myself.

As my shadow appears whenever I’m in the sun

the past cannot be thrown off and its weight

must be borne, or I will become another man.

 

But I saw someone wall his past into a garden

whose produce is always in fashion.

If you enter his property without permission

he will welcome you with a watchdog or a gun.

 

I saw someone set up his past as a harbor.

Wherever it sails, his boat is safe

—
If a storm comes, he can always head for home.

His voyage is the adventure of a kite.

 

I saw someone drop his past like trash.

He buried it and shed it altogether.

He has shown me that without the past

one can also move ahead and get somewhere.

 

Like a shroud my past surrounds me

but I will cut it and stitch it,

to make good shoes with it,

shoes that fit my feet.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

 

Night

Wojciech Bonowicz

 

A poem

from the start closes you up in itself.

It doesn’t want

you to look around to search

for other words

from other poems.

 

You sit on the corner of the stone

folded

like a sheet of paper.

Helpless agreeing

you don’t breathe. The poem

doesn’t allow it.

 

On the stone you cannot

wriggle use

a bed a clock a map

or all the rest

of the imagination.

 

A poem

has its own imagination.

It built it for itself in you

and then closed

to release itself.

 

You have to wait

on the corner of the stone

where sometimes a light flashes

the golden dust of hope.

 

In the end a poem

will open itself. The stone

lets you go: a sheet of paper

that begins to breathe.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist

 

The Frog and the Golden Ball

Robert Graves

 

She let her golden ball fall down the well

And begged a cold frog to retrieve it;

For which she kissed his ugly, gaping mouth –

Indeed, he could scarce believe it.

 

And seeing him transformed to his princely shape,

Who had been by hags enchanted,

She knew she could never love another man

Nor by any fate be daunted.

 

But what would her royal father and mother say?

They had promised her in marriage

To a cousin whose wide kingdom marched with theirs,

Who rode in a jeweled carriage.

 

‘Our plight, dear heart, would appear past human hope

To all except you and me: to all

Who have never swum as a frog in a dark well

Or have lost a golden ball.’

 

‘What then shall we do now?’ she asked her lover.

He kissed her again, and said:

‘Is magic of love less powerful at your Court

Than at this green well-head?’

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, GR artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, GR artist

 

Written by Himself

Gregory Pardlo

 

I was born in minutes in a roadside kitchen a skillet

whispering my name. I was born to rainwater and lye;

I was born across the river where I

was borrowed with clothespins, a harrow tooth,

broadsides sewn in my shoes. I returned, though

it please you, through no fault of my own,

pockets filled with coffee grounds and eggshells.

I was born still and superstitious; I bore an unexpected burden.

I gave birth, I gave blessing, I gave rise to suspicion.

I was born abandoned outdoors in the heat-shaped air,

air drifting like spirits and old windows.

I was born a fraction and a cipher and a ledger entry;

I was an index of first lines when I was born.

I was born waist-deep stubborn in the water crying

ain’t I a woman and a brother I was born

to this hall of mirrors, this horror story I was

born with a prologue of references, pursued

by mosquitoes and thieves, I was born passing

off the problem of the twentieth century: I was born.

I read minds before I could read fishes and loaves;

I walked a piece of the way alone before I was born.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Estelle Grunewald artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Estelle Grunewald artist

 

We Die

Diane Akerman, for Carl Sagan

 

We die despite appointments and feuds,

while our toddler,

who recently learned to say No,

opens and shuts drawers

a hundred times a day

and our teen braces

for the rapids of romance.

 

We die despite the contracts

and business trips we planned,

when our desk is untidy,

despite a long list of things to do

which we keep simmering

like a pot of rich broth.

 

We die despite work we cherish,

marrying whom we love,

piling up a star-spangled fortune,

basking on the Riviera of fame,

and achieving, that human participle

with no known object.

 

Life is not fair, the old saw goes.

We know, we know, but the saw glides slow,

one faint rasp, and then at length another.

When you died, I felt its jagged teeth rip.

Small heartwounds opened and bled,

closing as new ones opened ahead.

Horror welled, not from the how but the when.

 

You died at the top of your career,

happy, blessed by love, still young.

Playing by evolution’s rules, you won:

prospered, bred, rose in your tribe,

did what the parent gods and society prized.

 

Yet it didn’t save you, love or dough.

Even when it happens slow, it happens fast,

and then there’s no tomorrow.

Time topples, the castle of cards collapses,

thoughts melt, the subscription lapses.

What a waste of life we spend in asking,

in wish and worry and want and sorrow.

 

A tall man, you lie low, now and forever

complete, your brilliant star eclipsed.

I remember our meeting, many gabfests ago,

at a crossroads of moment and mind.

In later years, touched by nostalgia,

I teased: “I knew you when

you were just a badly combed scientist.”

With a grin, you added: “I knew you when

you were just a fledgling poet.”

 

Lost friend, you taught me lessons

I longed to learn, and this final one I’ve learned

against my will: the one spoken in silence,

warning us to love hard and deep,

clutch dear ones tighter, ransom each day,

the horror lesson I saw out of the corner of my eye

but refused to believe until now: we die.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist

 

Ermita in the Rain

Angela Manalang Gloria

 

It is not the rain that wanly

Sobs its tale across the bay,

Not the sobs of lone acacias

Trembling darkly in the gray,

 

Not the groans of harried breakers

Flinging tatters on the shore,

But the phantom of your voice that

Stays me dreaming at my door.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

 

The Way Through the Woods

Rudyard Kipling

 

They shut the road through the woods

Seventy years ago.

Weather and rain have undone it again,

And now you would never know

There was once a road through the woods

Before they planted the trees.

It is underneath the coppice and heath

And the thin anemones.

Only the keeper sees

That, where the ring-dove broods,

And the badgers roll at ease,

There was once a road through the woods.

 

Yet, if you enter the woods

Of a summer evening late,

When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools

Where the otter whistles his mate,

(They fear not men in the woods,

Because they see so few.)

You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,

And the swish of a skirt in the dew,

Steadily cantering through

The misty solitudes,

As though they perfectly knew

The old lost road through the woods …

But there is no road through the woods.

 

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art,

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art,

 

In a Dark Time

Theodore Roethke

 

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,

I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;

I hear my echo in the echoing wood–

A lord of nature weeping to a tree.

I live between the heron and the wren,

Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul

At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!

I know the purity of pure despair,

My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.

That place among the rocks–is it a cave,

Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

 

A steady storm of correspondences!

A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,

And in broad day the midnight come again!

A man goes far to find out what he is–

Death of the self in a long, tearless night,

All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

 

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.

My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,

Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?

A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.

The mind enters itself, and God the mind,

And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown