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Think in the Morning posts a poem and a selection of Napkin Art every day on our Facebook Page (search for @ThinkintheMorning).  This is the 7th group that we have consolidated on this blog.

Poems – 1

Poems – 2

Poems – 3

Poems – 4

Poems – 5

Poems – 6



Seven Strophes

Joseph Brodsky


I was but what you’d brush

with your palm, what your leaning

brow would hunch to in evening’s

raven-black hush.


I was but what your gaze

in that dark could distinguish:

a dim shape to begin with,

later – features, a face.


It was you, on my right,

on my left, with your heated

sighs, who molded my helix

whispering at my side.


It was you by that black

window’s trembling tulle pattern

who laid in my raw cavern

a voice calling you back.


I was practically blind.

You, appearing, then hiding,

gave me my sight and heightened

it. Thus some leave behind


a trace. Thus they make worlds.

Thus, having done so, at random

wastefully they abandon

their work to its whirls.


Thus, prey to speeds

of light, heat, cold, or darkness,

a sphere in space without markers

spins and spins.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Poetry is a Destructive Force

Wallace Stevens


That’s what misery is,

Nothing to have at heart.

It is to have or nothing.

It is a thing to have,

A lion, an ox in his breast,

To feel it breathing there.


Corazon, stout dog,

Young ox, bow-legged bear,

He tastes its blood, not spit.


He is like a man

In the body of a violent beast

Its muscles are his own…


The lion sleeps in the sun.

Its nose is on its paws.

It can kill a man.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, JM Flaherty artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, JM Flaherty artist



Jane Hirshfield


It is the work of feeling

to undo expectation.


A black-faced sheep

looks back at you as you pass

and your heart is startled

as if by the shadow

of someone once loved.

Neither comforted by this

nor made lonely.


Only remembering

that a self in exile is still a self,

as a bell unstruck for years

is still a bell.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist


Carson McCullers

Charles Bukowski


she died of alcoholism

wrapped in a blanket

on a deck chair

on an ocean



all her books of

terrified loneliness


all her books about

the cruelty

of loveless love


were all that was left

of her


as the strolling vacationer

discovered her body


notified the captain


and she was quickly dispatched

to somewhere else

on the ship


as everything

continued just


she had written it


Sea Gull Celler Bar Napkin Art, MF artist

Sea Gull Celler Bar Napkin Art, MF artist



Jennifer Michael Hecht

Even Eve, the only soul in all of time

to never have to wait for love,

must have leaned some sleepless nights

alone against the garden wall

and wailed, cold, stupified, and wild

and wished to trade-in all of Eden

to have but been a child.

In fact, I gather that is why she leapt and fell from grace,

that she might have a story of herself to tell

in some other place.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown



Alice Walker


I have a friend

who is turning gray,

not just her hair,

and I do not know

why this is so.


Is it a lack of vitamin E

pantothenic acid, or B-12?

Or is it from being frantic

and alone?


‘How long does it take you to love someone?’

I ask her.

‘A hot second,’ she replies.

‘And how long do you love them?’

‘Oh, anywhere up to several months.’

‘And how long does it take you

to get over loving them?’

‘Three weeks,’ she said, ‘tops.’


Did I mention I am also

turning gray?

It is because I adore this woman

who thinks of love

in this way.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Ars Poetica

Archibald MacLeish


A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,


As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone

Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless

As the flight of birds.


A poem should be motionless in time

As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases

Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,

Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time

As the moon climbs.


A poem should be equal to:

Not true.

For all the history of grief

An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love

The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean

But be.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Ruins of a Great House

Derek Walcott


though our longest sun sets at right declensions and

makes but winter arches,

it cannot be long before we lie down in darkness, and

have our light in ashes. . .

Browne, Urn Burial

Stones only, the disjecta membra of this Great House,

Whose moth-like girls are mixed with candledust,

Remain to file the lizard’s dragonish claws.

The mouths of those gate cherubs shriek with stain;

Axle and coach wheel silted under the muck

Of cattle droppings.

Three crows flap for the trees

And settle, creaking the eucalyptus boughs.

A smell of dead limes quickens in the nose

The leprosy of empire.

‘Farewell, green fields,

Farewell, ye happy groves!’

Marble like Greece, like Faulkner’s South in stone,

Deciduous beauty prospered and is gone,

But where the lawn breaks in a rash of trees

A spade below dead leaves will ring the bone

Of some dead animal or human thing

Fallen from evil days, from evil times.

It seems that the original crops were limes

Grown in that silt that clogs the river’s skirt;

The imperious rakes are gone, their bright girls gone,

The river flows, obliterating hurt.

I climbed a wall with the grille ironwork

Of exiled craftsmen protecting that great house

From guilt, perhaps, but not from the worm’s rent

Nor from the padded calvary of the mouse.

And when a wind shook in the limes I heard

What Kipling heard, the death of a great empire, the


Of ignorance by Bible and by sword.

A green lawn, broken by low walls of stone,

Dipped to the rivulet, and pacing, I thought next

Of men like Hawkins, Walter Raleigh, Drake,

Ancestral murderers and poets, more perplex4ed

In memory now by every ulcerous crime.

The world’s green age then was rotting lime

Whose stench became the charnel galleon’s text.

The rot remains with us, the men are gone.

But, as dead ash is lifted in a wind

That fans the blackening ember of the mind,

My eyes burned from the ashen prose of Donne.

Ablaze with rage I thought,

Some slave is rotting in this manorial lake,

But still the coal of my compassion fought

That Albion too was once

A colony like ours, ‘part of the continent, piece of the


Nook-shotten, rook o’erblown, deranged

By foaming channels and the vain expense

Of bitter faction.

All in compassion ends

So differently from what the heart arranged:

‘as well as if a manor of thy friend’s. . . ‘


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


Tell Me Not Here, It Needs Not Saying

A.E. Housman


Tell me not here, it needs not saying,

What tune the enchantress plays

In aftermaths of soft September

Or under blanching mays,

For she and I were long acquainted

And I knew all her ways.


On russet floors, by waters idle,

The pine lets fall its cone;

The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing

In leafy dells alone;

And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn

Hearts that have lost their own.


On acres of the seeded grasses

The changing burnish heaves;

Or marshalled under moons of harvest

Stand still all night the sheaves;

Or beeches strip in storms for winter

And stain the wind with leaves.


Posses, as I possessed a season,

The countries I resign,

Where over elmy plains the highway

Would mount the hills and shine,

And full of shade the pillared forest

Would murmur and be mine.


For nature, heartless, witless nature,

Will neither care nor know

What stranger’s feet may find the meadow

And trespass there and go,

Nor ask amid the dews of morning

If they are mine or no.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist


Remora, Remora

Thomas Lux


Clinging to the shark

is a sucker shark,

attached to which

and feeding off its crumbs

is one still tinier,

inch or two,

and on top of that one,

one the size of a nick of gauze;

smaller and smaller

(moron, idiot, imbecile, nincompoop)

until on top of that

is the last, a microdot sucker shark,

a filament’s tip – with a heartbeat – sliced off,

and the great sea

all around feeding

his host and thus him.

He’s too small

to be eaten himself

(though some things swim

with open mouths) so

he just rides along in the blue current,

the invisible point of the pyramid,

the top beneath all else.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown



R.P. Blackmur


The wind was in another country, and

the day had gathered to its heart of noon

the sum of silence, heat, and stricken time.

Not a ripple spread. The sea mirrored

perfectly all the nothing in the sky.

We had to walk about to keep our eyes

from seeing nothing, and our hearts from stopping

at nothing. Then most suddenly we saw

horizon on horizon lifting up

out of the sea’s edge a shining mountain

sun-yellow and sea-green; against it surf

flung spray and spume into the miles of sky.

Somebody said mirage, and it was gone,

but there I have been living ever since.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Declan artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Declan artist


Here I am

Paul Bowles


When I am here I shall not mind
I shall merely murmur:
If no one comes and sees me here it will be all right

Here it is hard to believe that anything is free

Come let us lapse into freedom

Let all these things become less than dust

Let me not think at all ever

Let these things come close together

Let everything be slow and soft

Let the wind blow over the roof at noon

Let everything be soft here because there is no dust

Let anything except what is coming come

That is the way I have always felt


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown



Sharon Olds


When I eat crab, slide the rosy

rubbery claw across my tongue

I think of my mother. She’d drive down

to the edge of the Bay, tiny woman in a

huge car, she’d ask the crab-man to

crack it for her. She’d stand and wait as the

pliers broke those chalky homes, wild-

red and knobby, those cartilage wrists, the

thin orange roof of the back.

I’d come home, and find her at the table

crisply unhousing the parts, laying the

fierce shell on one side, the

soft body on the other. She gave us

lots, because we loved it so much,

so there was always enough, a mound of crab like a

cross between breast-milk and meat. The back

even had the shape of a perfect

ruined breast, upright flakes

white as the flesh of a chrysanthemum, but the

best part was the claw, she’d slide it

out so slowly the tip was unbroken,

scarlet bulb of the feeler—it was such a

kick to easily eat that weapon,

wreck its delicate hooked pulp between

palate and tongue. She loved to feed us

and all she gave us was fresh, she was willing to

grasp shell, membrane, stem, to go

close to dirt and salt to feed us,

the way she had gone near our father himself

to give us life. I look back and

see us dripping at the table, feeding, her

row of pink eaters, the platter of flawless

limp claws, I look back further and

see her in the kitchen, shelling flesh, her

small hands curled—she is like a

fish-hawk, wild, tearing the meat

deftly, living out her life of fear and desire.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, MS artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, MS artist


Song (Romance) of Wine

Emile Nelligan

Translation by

Fred Cogswell


Fresh in joy, life, light – all things coincide,

This fine May eve ! like living hopes that once

Were in my heart, the choiring birds announce

Their prelude to my window open wide.


O fine May eve! O happy eve of May!

A distant organ beats out frigid chords;

And long shafts of sun, like crimson swords,

Cuts to the heart the scent of dying day.


How gay, how glad am I ! Pour out, pour out

Once more the wine into the chiming glass

That I may lose the pain of days which pass

In scorn for all the wicked human rout.


How glad am I ! My wine and art be blest!

I, too, have dreamt of making poetry

That lives, of poems which sound the exequy

For autumn winds that passing far-off mist.


The bitter laugh of rage is now good form,

And I, a poet, must eat scorn for food.

I have a heart but am not understood

Save by the moonlight and the great nights of storm.


Woman ! I drink to you who mock the path

where the rose-dream calls with arms flung wide;

I drink, too, to you men with brows of pride

Who first refuse my hand then scorn my life!


When the starry sky becomes one glorious roof,

And when a hymn resounds for golden spring,

I do not weep for all the days’ calm going,

Who wary grope within my own black youth.


How glad am I ! May eve all eves above.

Not drunk but desperately glad am I !…

Has living grown at last to be a joy?

Has my heart, too, been healed of my sick love?


The clocks have struck and the wind smells of night

Now the wine gurgles as I pour it out.

So glad am I that I laugh and shout

I fear I shall break down and sob outright.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, artist unknown


The House of Life Sonnet Sequence:  Sonnet 63

Daniel Gabriel Rossetti


The changing guests, each in a different mood,

Sit at the roadside table, and arise:

And every life among them in like wise

Is a soul’s board set daily with new food.

What man has bent o’er his son’s sleep, to brood

How that face shall watch his when cold it lies?

Or thought, as his own mother kiss’d his eyes,

Of what her kiss was when his father woo’d?

May not this ancient room thou sitt’st in dwell

In separate living souls for joy or pain?

Nay, all its corners may be painted plain

Where Heaven shows pictures of some life spent well;

And may be stamp’d, a memory all in vain,

Upon the sight of lidless eyes in Hell.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, D. Staples artist

Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, D. Staples artist