This is the eleventh poetry page posted on Think in the Morning.  We choose poems we like based only on our own tastes.  Each poem is paired with an original piece of napkin art produced at the Sea Gull Cellar Bar in Mendocino, CA from 1977 – 1985.  We identify the artist when possible.  Our goal is to make the napkin art readily available to all those interested and to highlight the benefits of reading poetry.  If you look back at earlier posts you can find all the previous poetry pages on our site.


Sweet Hernia

Edward Blishen


Sweet Hernia on the heights of Plasticine

Sings to the nylon songs of Brassiere;

The very aspirins listen, as they lean

Against the vitreous wind, to her sad air.

I see the bloom of mayonnaise she holds

Coloured like roofs of far away Shampoo.

Its asthma sweetens Earth! Oh, it enfolds

The alum land from Urine to Cachou!

One last wild gusset, then she’s lost in night…

And dusk the dandruff dims, and anthracite.


source: Stephen King favorite stanzas of poetry


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Efroym artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Efroym artist


Big Game

Brenda Shaughnessy


—after Richard Brautigan’s “A Candlelion Poem”


What began as wildfire ends up

on a candle wick. In reverse,

it is contained,


a lion head in a hunter’s den.

Big Game.


Bigger than one I played

with matches and twigs and glass

in the shade.


When I was young, there was no sun

and I was afraid.


Now, in grownhood, I call the ghost

to my fragile table, my fleshy supper,

my tiny flame.


Not just any old, but THE ghost,

the last one I will be,


the future me,

finally the sharpest knife

in the drawer.


The pride is proud.

The crowd is loud, like garbage dumping


or how a brown bag ripping

sounds like a shout

that tells the town the house


is burning down.

Drowns out some small folded breath


of otherlife: O that of a lioness licking her cubs to sleep in a dream of

savage gold.


O that roaring, not yet and yet

and not yet dead.


So many fires start in my head.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, To Be or Not to Be

William Shakespeare


To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Ode to Big Trend

Terrance Hayes


Pretty soon the Negroes were looking to get paid.

My partner, Big Trend, wiped his ox neck and said


He wasn’t going to wait too much longer. You

know that look your daddy gets before he whups you?


That’s how Big Trend looked. There was a pink scar

Meddling his forehead. Most people assumed a bear


Like him couldn’t read anything but a dollar,

But I’d watched him tour the used bookstore

In town and seen him napping so I knew he held more


Than power in those hands. They could tear

A Bible in two. Sometimes on the walk home I’d hear


Him reciting poems. But come Friday, he was the one

The fellas asked to speak to the boss. He’d go alone,


Usually, and left behind, we imagined the boss buckled

Into Trend’s shadow because our money always followed.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown



Raymond Carver


So early it’s still almost dark out.

I’m near the window with coffee,

and the usual early morning stuff

that passes for thought.


When I see the boy and his friend

walking up the road

to deliver the newspaper.


They wear caps and sweaters,

and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.

They are so happy

they aren’t saying anything, these boys.


I think if they could, they would take

each other’s arm.

It’s early in the morning,

and they are doing this thing together.


They come on, slowly.

The sky is taking on light,

though the moon still hangs pale over the water.


Such beauty that for a minute

death and ambition, even love,

doesn’t enter into this.


Happiness. It comes on

unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,

any early morning talk about it.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Hanson artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Hanson artist


BkI:XXVIII Three Handfuls of Earth

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)


You, my Archytas, philosopher, and measurer of land,

of the sea, of wide sands, are entombed

in a small mound of meagre earth near the Matinian shore,

and it’s of no use to you in the least,

that you, born to die, have explored the celestial houses

crossed, in spirit, the rounds of the sky.

Tantalus, Pelop’s father, died too, a guest of the gods,

and Tithonus took off to the heavens,

Minos gained entry to great Jupiter’s secrets, Tartarus

holds Euphorbus, twice sent to Orcus,

though he bore witness, carrying his shield there, to Trojan times,

and left nothing more behind, for black Death,

but his skin and his bones, and that certainly made him, Archytas,

to your mind, no trivial example

of Nature and truth. But there’s still one night that awaits us all,

and each, in turn, makes the journey of death.

The Furies deliver some as a spectacle for cruel Mars,

the greedy sea’s the sailor’s ruin:

the funerals of the old, and the young, close ranks together,

and no one’s spared by cruel Proserpine.

Me too, the south wind, Notus, swift friend of setting Orion,

drowned deep in Illyrian waters.

O, sailor, don’t hesitate, from spite, to grant a little treacherous

sand, to my unburied bones and skull.

So that, however the east wind might threaten the Italian

waves, thrashing the Venusian woods,

you’ll be safe, yourself, and rich rewards will flow from the source,

from even-handed Jupiter, and from

Neptune, who is the protector of holy Tarentum. Are you

indifferent to committing a wrong

that will harm your innocent children hereafter? Perhaps

a need for justice, and arrogant

disdain, await you, too: don’t let me be abandoned here

my prayers unanswered: no offering

will absolve you. Though you hurry away, it’s a brief delay:

three scattered handfuls of earth will free you.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Cindy Swan artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Cindy Swan artist


Messy Room

Shel Silverstein


Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

His underwear is hanging on the lamp.

His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,

And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.

His workbook is wedged in the window,

His sweater’s been thrown on the floor.

His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,

And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.

His books are all jammed in the closet,

His vest has been left in the hall.

A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,

And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

Donald or Robert or Willie or—

Huh? You say it’s mine? Oh, dear,

I knew it looked familiar!


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Bob Avery artrist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Bob Avery artrist



Rae Armantrout


Your clock’s been turned to zero,

though there is no zero on a clock.

Your skin is petal soft no matter

how old the starter kit was—

but you will get tired or bored.

That’s when the clock starts up.

Your parents want you happy,

but we also want to set you down,

to get back to our old lives.

How will you turn against us

once you figure this out?

You’re about to discover intention.

There are four stuffed animals

in front of you on strings.

They are targets.

You won’t understand this for a while.

You flail your arms.

Sometimes you make one bounce.

Are humans the only creatures

who must learn
to move with purpose?

Is that why we harp on motive,

why we think of earth

as some god’s handiwork?


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Mariana Jones artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Mariana Jones artist


The Tavern Parlor

Danielle Chapman


A giant step up into the dip—

the unavoidable tremble of cocktail tumblers
against bottles of bourbon and bitters
droning the spitoon.

All dim, unwoken, shut

as the Duchess’s

(née Clare Singleton’s)

dust-caked woodcut gramophone

as the frail jail of Limoges and miniature

salt shakers belling at my footfall

recalled country wenches

doing the quadrille

with speculators’ sons, and Ben

the tavern houseboy, in canary pantaloons

wafting a fan sewn from the tails

of fifty peahens

to keep off the Luciferian flies.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist


Who Isn’t Selling

Rebecca Zweig


Money is a sort of poetry, both

are barely human. And their hypo-

thetical exchange breeds

in me such an unknown

currency I begin

to grunt all animal, my value

rabid on the flux

of loss, stagnation, bitter fruit.

When I think about bitcoin—

I mean, spacetime, I think of the unmet

logic of its gesture, each must

extend to the outer moons

of grief. I keep accounts

of lamentation. I lick a balance

out of grief. I calculate returns on gravity

in living. Orbit those desperate

minor planets until I think

myself back into

an alchemy. Yet at every day

break I see there’s so much

money, shit I mean, there’s so

much light in its newness.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Sandra Lindstrom artist



Percy Bysshe Shelley


I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


What Rome Is About

Gretchen Wieners (Mean Girls)


Why should Caesar

Get to stomp around

Like a giant

While the rest of us try not to get smashed under his big feet?

What’s so great about Caesar?


Brutus is just as cute as Caesar

Brutus is just as smart as Caesar

People totally like Brutus

Just as much as they like Caesar

And when did it become okay

For one person

To be the boss of everybody?


Because that’s not what Rome is about



Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown