Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dear Self I Might Have Been

by Catherine Pierce

Did you ever make it to Taos, the Badlands, the Isle
of Skye, all the places you thought you'd locate yourself,

as if you might have been hiding in a whisky cask
or buried by earthquake rubble? I suspect, Self

I Might Have Been, that you didn't. I suspect
that you spent the long highway days of your twenties

surrounded by photographs and harmonica songs, the future
a galaxy hurtling above you, infinite and too far

to touch, and your body always alive with nerves and hope,
your hunger for Next pushing that other hunger

to the side until you became thin as a plunging star's trail,
your eyes larger and larger until they could take in

all the sky's dome at once. And I suspect that you loved
so much this launch phase -- the roar, the flames the fear --

that the cubicle at your filing job, the elm-lined streets
of your hometown became lit with a heat

Stronger than the desert, with vistas more awful
than the Badlands, with desolation greater and greener

than that Scottish isle, and once you saw your world
in its true vastness, you knew you'd never leave it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


by Joy Harjo

a woman can't survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains
she must recognize
the foreverness of blue sky
she must flow
with the elusive
of night wind women
who will take her into
her own self

look at me
i am not a separate woman
i am a continuance
of blue sky
i am the throat
of the sandia mountains
a night wind woman
who burns
with every breath
she takes

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Zoo

by Gilbert Sorrentino

Goliathus goliathus, the one banana
peeling beetle in the U S A, brighter
than a comicstrip, is dead.

"Wrapped in his native grasses," left
on the doorstep of the museum
and a favorite of the visitors,

4 and 1 half inches long with an
8 inch wingspread, bigger than
Skeezix, with a life more full,

peeling his bananas for survival,
unlike Mamie Mullins, unlike Moon,
who would be Skeezix but for

the environment, ah! Who cares
or believes in them at all, at all,
goliathus was better and he

not a native.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Action Philosophy

by Michael McClure

Let me be free of ligaments and tendencies
to change myself into a shape
that's less than spirit.
a caterpillar, a salmon,
sailing in the silver water
beneath the rosy sky.
Were I a moth or condor
you'd see me fly!
I love this meat of which I'm made!
I dive in it to find the simplest vital shape!



Friday, December 10, 2010


by Philip Lamantia

O beato solitudo! where have I flown to?
stars overturn the wall of my music
as flight of birds, they go by, the spirits
opened below the lark of plenty
ovens of neant overflow the docks at Veracruz
This much is time
summer coils the soft suck of night
lone unseen eagles crash thru mud
I am worn like an old sack by the celestial bum
I'm dropping my eyes where all the trees turn on fire!
I'm mad to go to you, Solitude - who will carry me there?
I'm wedged in this collision of planets/Tough!
I'm the trumpet of King David
the sinister elevator tore itself limb by limb

You can not close
you can not open
you break yr head
you make bloody bread!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Past

by Anne Waldman

You said my life was meant to run from yours as
streams from the river.
You are the ocean I won't run to you
We were standing on Arapahoe in front of the Silver
Saddle Motel
They had no rooms for us
I wore high red huaraches of Mexico & a long skirt
of patches
You had traveled back from Utah
I thought of the Salt Lakes, seeing them once from a
plane they were like blank patches in the mind or
bandaged places of the heart
I felt chilly
I had just ridden down the mountain with a car full of
poets, one terrified of the shifting heights, the
dark, the mountains, he said, closing in
I said Wait for me, but I have to go here first, or, it's too
complicated, some kind of stalling because I
wanted you
You were direct, you were traveling light, your feet
were light, you hair was light, you were attentive
Were you rushing me?
We walked by the stream, you held me, I said I have to
get back soon because he's waiting, maybe he's
I think the moon was waning
You walked me back along 9th Street under dark trees
The night we met, June 6, we'd come out of the New
York Church to observe a performer jumping over
I was with my friend, a mentor, much older
You were introduced to him, to me
You said you'd followed me out from that night to where
the continent divides, where my heart divided
I wrote poems to you in Santa Fe
You followed me all the way to Kitkitdizze
I waited for you, when you came I was away
I drove miles to speak with you on the telephone
I met you in Nevada City after nearly turning back to
put out a fire
We went to Alta, the lake of your childhood
I wanted to stay forever in the big room with all the
little white beds, like a nursery
You were like first love
All the impossibilities were upon us
We never had enough time
In Palo Alto where they name the streets after poets I
admired your mother's pretty oriental things
In San Francisco we ate hurriedly at the joint near the
opera house
I lied about going to Chicago for your birthday in New York
I lied about spending Christmas with you in Cherry Valley
I will never forget the dance you did to the pipes of
Finebar Furey on New Year's day. You kept your
torso bent to protect your heart
Then I moved to Colorado
We met and sat in the yard of a friend's brother's house in
Missoula, Montana
It's wonderful the way this city turns serenely into
country with no fuss, the city is shed, or is it the
other way around, the country falls off into the
It was how I wanted us to shed our other lives at least
when we were together
In that yard you made me feel our situation was
We seemed to be in constant pain
When we parted at the small airport early that morning
my heart finally ripped
In the spring back in New York, things got darker
I was sick, my head was swollen
I remember reading to you about the Abidharma on a
I had trouble speaking
I behaved badly and embarrassed you at the uptown
A part of you had left me for good
You'd given your loft over to weekly parties
You were having a public life. I felt you were turning
into me
I wanted our private romance
Was I being straight with you, I wondered?
I let you think things of me that weren't true. You
thought I was wise & couldn't be hurt
Then I had the person I lived with and what could
be said about that?
That summer you visited my hotel in Boulder. We
slept on separate mattresses. I felt I was trying to
imprison you and after you left I couldn't go back
there for days. When I did I found a dead bird had
gotten entrapped, struggled fiercely to get out
The following winter I waited for you in sub zero cold,
wearing black. I was told you'd come & gone. You
didn't return. We spoke on the phone for a long time.
I said I was going home and falling in love with someone
else. You said It sounds like you want to
My mother heard me crying and came to me in the
bathtub and said O don't, it breaks my heart! I
told her I was going to the hell for a while I'd often
made for others, karma worked that way. Bosh
karma she said
We've met briefly in Portland, Oregon and New York
We've corresponded all this time, following the details
of each other's lives and work
Your father has recently died
My baby son grows stronger
The last time I saw you you were standing on my
street corner
As I came toward you you said What a youthful gait
you have

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Night Madness Poem

by Sandra Cisneros

There's a poem in my head
like too many cups of coffee.
A pea under twenty eiderdowns.
A sadness in my heart like stone.
A telephone. And always my
night madness that outs like bats
across this Texas sky.

I'm the crazy lady they warned you about.
The she of rumor talked about -
and worse, who talks.

It's no secret.
I'm here. Under a circle of light.
The light always on, resisting a glass,
an easy cigar. The kind

who reels the twilight sky.
Swoop circling.
I'm witch woman high
on tobacco and holy water.

I'm a woman delighted with her disasters.
They give me something to do.
A profession of sorts.
Keeps me industrious
and of some serviceable use.

In dreams the origami of the brain
opens like a fist, a pomegranate,
an expensive geometry.

Not true.
I haven't a clue
why I'm rumpled tonight.

Choose your weapon.
Mine - the telephone, my tongue.
Both black as a gun.

I have the magic of words,
the power to charm and kill at will.
To kill myself or to aim haphazardly.
And kill you.