Paradise (pt.4)

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(and in London,
which disgraced itself,
and he left later,
singing…)

O London town’s a town of stink,
A town of Wells and Bennett
Where once old Shaw has said “’tis so”
No man dares speak again’ it.

A man may labour 20 years
I’ th’ vineyard of the min’
But the grapes o’ filthy London town
They make a bitter wine.

A man may labour 30 years
I’ th’ brickyard of the soul
Or make as grand a difference
By pissin’ in a hole.

O London town, O London town,
I’ll see thee never more
Till all thy murdered artists march
Triumphant home from war,

Till all thy streets be paved wi’ gold
Beneath an azure sky,
And Bloomsbury be buried
And the Lakes have all gang dry.

 

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Paradise (pt.3)

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Up a thousand steps,
a thousand steps and a dusty lane,
Fig-trees, leaves the color of the sea,
glint of sea-mirror, whence one had started;
A violin bowed by skillful hands,
playing Vivaldi, not practicing, playing to be heard;
And Il Poeta, come to stay the weekend,
come to see his daughter,
His daughter, and not his wife,
and also the skillful woman who plays Vivaldi.

The eye that covets,
The hand that moves upon the impulse of the eye.
It has been this way for some time,
and so why should we speak of it?

And a thousand steps below,
upon the promenade, the women in their finery,
the men not less fine.

And Dorothy has done with Henry James at last,
Only she may read The Princess Casamassima again,
Or perhaps start in on one of the French novelists…

And why should it be spoken of?

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Paradise (pt.2)

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“I believed in Zeus & Apollo & not in Christ,
and the nun: ‘well,
it’s all the same religion.’
She was Italian, after all…”

The golden dust footprint-deep on the road
& the air golden with sun-light
& around any turning of the road a tree or a god,

a god or a goddess,
ivy-tressed,
skin the color of sun-light,
dusted with gold, dust of autumn grapes,
the old wise eyes, half-lidded, —
“She turned her eyes to me,
and she inclined her head, so;
and the light of the golden hour
shone on her shoulder,
and on her soft throat,
and I came to her there…”

 

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Paradise (pt.1)

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And the sea,
the sea tranquil this winter’s day;
and Ezra, old man gone silent at last, —
ear, ear for the sea-surge
— gone silent, hearing no voices,

only the sea, the measureless sea
fills his ears
bidding him be silent,
bidding him hear no voices

who took genius for wisdom
who took passion for faith
who for atonement took sadness and silence,

took bitterness, despairing of Paradise.

“How are you today, Maestro?”
“Senile!”

And the great sea
surges, surges, the world’s measure.
He may hear it who has the ear for it,
he may bring it forth who has a tongue for it.

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Maybe I should have been

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Maybe I should have been
a nature poet, talking up
clouds and lakes,
wolves and rabbits,
the coyote, the honeybee, the scorpion.

Maybe I should have spent my time
traveling from desert to climax forest,
traveling from valley to mountainside,
talking forest fires, rolling fog,
the endless waves that munch seaside cliffs,
the fantastical desert arches
that occupy our cross section of time,
snails, beetles, microbes, grizzly bears,
and how everything fails and is reborn.

Maybe I’ll let go of my newspaper
this time, maybe
I’ll move to the suburbs and write about
a drowned man, maybe
I’ll go to work for a bank
and write about a drowned man,
maybe after writing about the sea
all my life, it will be a happy ending
to load my pockets with stones
and wade to meet the rising tide.

Maybe I’ll go to work for an insurance company
and write about ice cream.

Maybe I will yet.
Meanwhile, just to remind me
that it’s not all over,
here comes that blackbird again,
calling to see if I’m ready yet
to do the next thing.

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Marvel his birthday away

(Dylan Marlais Thomas, born 27 October 1914)

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We summoned Dylan Thomas’s spirit;
He was more than a little bit drunk, we all could hear it.
But we were charmed he had chosen to honor us
And even inebriated, his voice was still quite sonorous.

 

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For Ambrose Bierce on his birthday

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The only death I want is one
that maybe never really happens
like yours Mr. Bierce
the one you maybe had
after you disappeared
into the Mexican desert
or that you maybe didn’t have
because nobody ever saw you die
so maybe.

You know what I mean?

The death I want is that kind
a little bit like hope
and a little bit like a shrug
and which never provably happened
so there’s always that chance.

You know what I mean.

Which is just to say
happy hundred-and-seventy-fourth
if you’re still out there
you crabby old bastard.

 

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The fascination

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The fascination of what’s difficult
Worked out all right for you, it seems, old man,
As when Blavatsky’s esoteric cult
Helped you parse George’s automatic hand–

And who would doubt that Truth herself was caught
Dumbfounded in your raveled Celtic knot?

 

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No Evil Star

Jean_Dodal_Tarot_trump_17The world laments with many tongues;
You had your one.
But you said enough, with your rhymes and your songs
And your crying, crying, crying all night long.
You were just killing time till it was time to go
But found time dies too slow.

It’s all right now, I think you’d say.
Maybe there was a better change you could have made
But finally they’re all the same.
After the games you’d played with pain
The gas was easy, anyway.

Were you afraid? Who wouldn’t be?
You knew the soul is what it feels.
A private pain is no less real:
Yours grew until it had to be set free.
I guess you did it perfectly.

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From this height one sees everything

(after Li Po)
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A younger me would have stood on his head
To prove the earth and sky are of a size
Then seeing beneath his feet the sunlit clouds
Strode off upon that opalescent path.

These days the sun has turned her face from me.
The autumn wind flings tiny knives of frost.
Far down below, the slow east river flows
Beset with whitecaps, fishing boats, and gulls.

Yes, younger, I’d have turned things upside-down:
The sparrows and the swallows at their nests,
The small birds perched among the date tree’s thorns,
All would have stopped, and quirked their heads to see!

But these days I’m no gymnast, me.
Sundown, I’ll sling my sword upon my back;
I’ll set my feet upon the dusty road
And head off down the mountain, muttering of home.

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