America

A
Through the Varied Patterned Lace by Margaret Danner
Margaret Danner
Greeting from a Baha’i
“I salute The Divinity
in you.” As I look into each different face,
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Morning Song and Evening Walk by Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez
1.

Tonite in need of you
and God
I move imperfect
through this ancient city.

Quiet. No one hears
No one feels the tears
of multitudes.
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Jail Poems by Bob Kaufman
Bob Kaufman
1
I am sitting in a cell with a view of evil parallels,
Waiting thunder to splinter me into a thousand me's.
It is not enough to be in one cage with one self;
I want to sit opposite every prisoner in every hole.
Doors roll and bang, every slam a finality, bang!
The junkie disappeared into a red noise, stoning out his hell.
The odored wino congratulates himself on not smoking,
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Faces at the First Farmworkers’ Constitutional Convention by José Montoya
José Montoya
Just the other day
In Fresno
In a giant arena
Architectured
To reject the very poor
Cesar Chavez brought
The very poor
Together
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Th’ Dog Dreamers by José Montoya
José Montoya
Suddenly,
A mean-mouthed pack of dogs
Came out of stage left
Moving across America
In rapacious slow motion
Running funny, they said.
And how they appeared and disappeared
Didn’t help, either.
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Meanwhile by Jack Gilbert
Jack Gilbert
It waits. While I am walking through the pine trees
along the river, it is waiting. It has waited a long time.
In southern France, in Belgium, and even Alabama.
Now it waits in New England while I say grace over
almost everything: for a possum dead on someone’s lawn,
the sing light on a levee while Northampton sleeps,
and because the lanes between houses in Greek hamlets
are exactly the width of a donkey loaded on each side
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O Ye Tongues by Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton
First Psalm

Let there be a God as large as a sunlamp to laugh his heat at you.

Let there be an earth with a form like a jigsaw and let it fit for all of ye.

Let there be the darkness of a darkroom out of the deep. A worm room.

Let there be a God who sees light at the end of a long thin pipe and lets it in.

Let God divide them in half.

Let God share his Hoodsie.

Let the waters divide so that God may wash his face in first light.
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Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
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Let It Be Known by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs
Let it be known to all, the story
Of the glorious struggle of my people.
Let it be known that black men and women
Helped to build this our country.
Let it be known that black men and women of the past
In an effort to make this country
What it ought to be, gave up their very last
To make America, a real democracy
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The One Thing That Can Save America by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
Is anything central?
Orchards flung out on the land,
Urban forests, rustic plantations, knee-high hills?
Are place names central?
Elm Grove, Adcock Corner, Story Book Farm?
As they concur with a rush at eye level
Beating themselves into eyes which have had enough
Thank you, no more thank you.
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from The Book of the Dead: The Book of the Dead by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
These roads will take you into your own country.
Seasons and maps coming where this road comes
into a landscape mirrored in these men.

Past all your influences, your home river,
constellations of cities, mottoes of childhood,
parents and easy cures, war, all evasion’s wishes.

What one word must never be said?
Dead, and these men fight off our dying,
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Long, too long America by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys andprosperity only,
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing, grappling with direst fate and recoiling not,
And now to conceive and show to the world what your childrenen-masse really are,
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en-masse really are?)
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from The Work by Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Not fierce and tender but sweet.
This is our impression of the soldiers.
We call our machine Aunt Pauline.
Fasten it fat, that is us, we say Aunt Pauline.
When we left Paris we had rain.
Not snow now nor that in between.
We did have snow then.
Now we are bold.
We are accustomed to it.
All the weights are measures.
By this we mean we know how much oil we use for the machine.

* * *

Hurrah for America.
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So Going Around Cities by Ted Berrigan
Ted Berrigan
to Doug & Jan Oliver “I order you to operate, I was not made to suffer.”
Probing for old wills, and friendships, for to free
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A Poem for Painters by John Wieners
John Wieners
Our age bereft of nobility
How can our faces show it?
I look for love.
My lips stand out
dry and cracked with want
of it.
Oh it is well.
My poem shall show the need for it.
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Student Letter by Stephen Sandy
Stephen Sandy
After the declaration by emperor
to stop the war
many people in Tokyo killed themselves,
for instance, in front of the imperial palace.
But few people knows those facts.

Hence you must teach me
where you got the news or what sort of book
gave you the fact that quite few people knows.
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The Lonesome Dream by Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller
In the America of the dream
the first rise of the moon
swings free of the ocean,
and she reigns in her shining flesh
over a good, great valley
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Tomato Pies, 25 Cents by Grace Cavalieri
Grace Cavalieri
Tomato pies are what we called them, those days,
before Pizza came in,
at my Grandmother’s restaurant,
in Trenton New Jersey.
My grandfather is rolling meatballs
in the back. He studied to be a priest in Sicily but
saved his sister Maggie from marrying a bad guy
by coming to America.
Uncle Joey is rolling dough and spooning sauce.
Uncle Joey, is always scrubbed clean,
sobered up, in a white starched shirt, after
cops delivered him home just hours before.
The waitresses are helping
themselves to handfuls of cash out of the drawer,
playing the numbers with Moon Mullin
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Walt Whitman at Bear Mountain by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
. . . life which does not give the preference to any other life, of any
previous period, which therefore prefers its own existence . . .
Ortega y Gasset
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The Zebra Goes Wild Where the Sidewalk Ends by Henry Dumas
Henry Dumas
I
Neon stripes tighten my wall
where my crayon landlord hangs
from a bent nail.

My black father sits crooked
in the kitchen
drunk on Jesus’ blood turned
to cheap wine.
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Eating Chocolate Ice Cream: Reading Mayakovsky by Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest
Since I’ve decided to revolutionize my life
since

decided

revolutionize

life
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To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth by Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley
Hail, happy day, when, smiling like the morn,
Fair Freedom rose New-England to adorn:
The northern clime beneath her genial ray,
Dartmouth, congratulates thy blissful sway:
Elate with hope her race no longer mourns,
Each soul expands, each grateful bosom burns,
While in thine hand with pleasure we behold
The silken reins, and Freedom's charms unfold.
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Of History and Hope by Miller Williams
Miller Williams
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
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Cantico del Sole by Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
Troubles my sleep,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
Troubles my sleep.
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For You O Democracy by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other’s necks,
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

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Politics by William Meredith
William Meredith
Tonight Hazard’s father and stepmother are having
jazz for McGovern. In the old game-room
the old liberals listen as the quintet builds
crazy houses out of skin and brass, crumbling
the house of decorum, everybody likes that.

For decades they have paid for the refurbishing
of America and they have not got their money’s worth.
Now they listen, hopeful,
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America by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
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from America, America by Saadi Youssef
Saadi Youssef
God save America,
My home, sweet home!

We are not hostages, America,
and your soldiers are not God's soldiers...
We are the poor ones, ours is the earth of the drowned gods,
the gods of bulls,
the gods of fires,
the gods of sorrows that intertwine clay and blood in a song...
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America Politica Historia, in Spontaneity by Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso
O this political air so heavy with the bells
and motors of a slow night, and no place to rest
but rain to walk—How it rings the Washington streets!
The umbrella’d congressmen; the rapping tires
of big black cars, the shoulders of lobbyists
caught under canopies and in doorways,
and it rains, it will not let up,
and meanwhile lame futurists weep into Spengler’s
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The American Way by Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso
1

I am a great American
I am almost nationalistic about it!
I love America like a madness!
But I am afraid to return to America
I’m even afraid to go into the American Express—


2

They are frankensteining Christ in America
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The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
1.

Far from the sea far from the sea
of Breton fishermen
the white clouds scudding
over Lowell
and the white birches the
bare white birches
along the blear night roads
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The City (1925) by Carl Rakosi
Carl Rakosi
1

Under this Luxemburg of heaven,
upright capstan,
small eagles. . . .
is the port of N.Y. . . . .

gilders, stampers, pen makers, goldbeaters,

apprehensions of thunder
speed
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Climbing Milestone Mountain, August 22, 1937 by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth
For a month now, wandering over the Sierras,
A poem had been gathering in my mind,
Details of significance and rhythm,
The way poems do, but still lacking a focus.
Last night I remembered the date and it all
Began to grow together and take on purpose.
We sat up late while Deneb moved over the zenith
And I told Marie all about Boston, how it looked
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God Bless America by John Fuller
John Fuller
When they confess that they have lost the penial bone and outer space is
Once again a numinous void, when they’re kept out of Other Places,
And Dr Fieser falls asleep at last and dreams of unburnt faces,
When gold medals are won by the ton for forgetting about the different races, God Bless America.

When in the Latin shanties the scented priesthood suffers metempsychosis
And with an organ entry tutti copula the dollar uncrosses
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I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
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I, Too by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
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In Goya’s Greatest Scenes We Seem to See . . . by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
‘suffering humanity’
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity
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In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. by June Jordan
June Jordan
I

honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born

America

tomorrow yesterday rip rape
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Mating Saliva by Richard Brautigan
Richard Brautigan
A girl in a green mini-
skirt, not very pretty, walks
down the street.

A businessman stops, turns
to stare at her ass
that looks like a moldy
refrigerator.

There are now 200,000,000 people
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Middle Passage by Robert Hayden
Robert Hayden
I

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:

Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,
sharks following the moans the fever and the dying;
horror the corposant and compass rose.

Middle Passage:
voyage through death
to life upon these shores.
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Money by Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov
an introductory lecture This morning we shall spend a few minutes
Upon the study of symbolism, which is basic
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Problems of Translation: Problems of Language by June Jordan
June Jordan
Dedicated to Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz 1

I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
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Pyrography by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
Out here on Cottage Grove it matters. The galloping
Wind balks at its shadow. The carriages
Are drawn forward under a sky of fumed oak.
This is America calling:
The mirroring of state to state,
Of voice to voice on the wires,
The force of colloquial greetings like golden
Pollen sinking on the afternoon breeze.
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A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
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To Elsie by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
The pure products of America
go crazy—
mountain folk from Kentucky

or the ribbed north end of
Jersey
with its isolate lakes and

valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
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To His Mistress Going to Bed by John Donne
John Donne
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.
Off with that wiry Coronet and shew
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Visiting a dead man on a summer day by Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy
In flat America, in Chicago,
Graceland cemetery on the German North Side.
Forty feet of Corinthian candle
celebrate Pullman embedded
lonely raisin in a cake of concrete.
The Potter Palmers float
in an island parthenon.
Barons of hogfat, railroads and wheat
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Advice to a Young Prophet by Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton
Keep away, son, these lakes are salt. These flowers
Eat insects. Here private lunatics
Yell and skip in a very dry country.

Or where some haywire monument
Some badfaced daddy of fear
Commands an unintelligent rite.

To dance on the unlucky mountain,
To dance they go, and shake the sin
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Autobiography by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike’s Place every day
watching the champs
of the Dante Billiard Parlor
and the French pinball addicts.
I am leading a quiet life
on lower East Broadway.
I am an American.
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The Ballad of the Children of the Czar by Delmore Schwartz
Delmore Schwartz
1

The children of the Czar
Played with a bouncing ball

In the May morning, in the Czar’s garden,
Tossing it back and forth.

It fell among the flowerbeds
Or fled to the north gate.

A daylight moon hung up
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Ghana Calls by W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois
Dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah I was a little boy, at home with strangers.
I liked my playmates, and knew well,
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I Am an Atheist Who Says His Prayers by Karl Shapiro
Karl Shapiro
I am an atheist who says his prayers.

I am an anarchist, and a full professor at that. I take the loyalty oath.

I am a deviate. I fondle and contribute, backscuttle and brown, father of three.

I stand high in the community. My name is in Who’s Who. People argue about my modesty.

I drink my share and yours and never have enough. I free-load officially and unofficially.

A physical coward, I take on all intellectuals, established poets, popes, rabbis, chiefs of staff.

I am a mystic. I will take an oath that I have seen the Virgin. Under the dry pandanus, to the scratching of kangaroo rats, I achieve psychic onanism. My tree of nerves electrocutes itself.

I uphold the image of America and force my luck. I write my own ticket to oblivion.
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I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
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Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye by Gerald Stern
Gerald Stern
Every city in America is approached
through a work of art, usually a bridge
but sometimes a road that curves underneath
or drops down from the sky. Pittsburgh has a tunnel—

you don’t know it—that takes you through the rivers
and under the burning hills. I went there to cry
in the woods or carry my heavy bicycle
through fire and flood. Some have little parks—
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Lines Written Near San Francisco by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
I wake and feel the city trembling.
Yes, there is something unsettled in the air
And the earth is uncertain.

And so it was for the tenor Caruso.
He couldn’t sleep—you know how the ovation
Rings in your ears, and you re-sing your part.

And then the ceiling trembled
And the floor moved. He ran into the street.
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The Minneapolis Poem by James Wright
James Wright
to John Logan 1
I wonder how many old men last winter
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from Of Being Numerous by George Oppen
George Oppen
9

‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance from Them, the people, does not also increase’
I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place

Yet I am one of those who from nothing but man’s way of thought and one of his dialects and what has happened to me
Have made poetry

To dream of that beach
For the sake of an instant in the eyes,

The absolute singular
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The Old Maid Factory by Constance Urdang
Constance Urdang
This is the factory
Where they manufacture old maids
At one end of the assembly line
The women are jostled into their places
They wonder where they are going
What will happen to them
One says, “Where is my sister?”
But the foreman is not permitted to answer
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On the Civil War on the East Coast of the United States of North America 1860-64 by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
Because of the unaccountable spirit of the troops
oh we were marched as we were never marched before
and flanked them off from home. Stupid Meade
was after them, head on to tail, but we convinced
him, finally, to flank, flank, cut off their head.
He finally understood, the idiot, and got a fort
named after him, for wisdom. He probably thought
Lee would conquer Washington from Appomattox
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Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Airport bus from JFK
cruising through Queens
passing huge endless cemetery
by Long Island’s old expressway
(once a dirt path for wheelless Indians)
myriad small tombstones tilted up
gesturing statues on parapets
stone arms or wings upraised
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Sway by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
Swing and sway with Sammy Kaye Everyone at Lake Kearney had a nickname:
there was a Bumstead, a Tonto, a Tex,
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To Live with a Landscape by Constance Urdang
Constance Urdang
1
Take your boulevards, your Locust Street,
Your Chestnut, Pine, your Olive,
Take your Forest Park and Shaw’s Garden,
Your avenues that lead past street-corner violence,
Past your West End, past your Limit,
To shabby suburban crime,
Vandalism in the parking-lot,
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To the Western World by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
A siren sang, and Europe turned away
From the high castle and the shepherd’s crook.
Three caravels went sailing to Cathay
On the strange ocean, and the captains shook
Their banners out across the Mexique Bay.

And in our early days we did the same.
Remembering our fathers in their wreck
We crossed the sea from Palos where they came
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The True-Blue American by Delmore Schwartz
Delmore Schwartz
Jeremiah Dickson was a true-blue American,
For he was a little boy who understood America, for he felt that he must
Think about everything; because that’s all there is to think about,
Knowing immediately the intimacy of truth and comedy,
Knowing intuitively how a sense of humor was a necessity
For one and for all who live in America. Thus, natively, and
Naturally when on an April Sunday in an ice cream parlor Jeremiah
Was requested to choose between a chocolate sundae and a banana split
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Underwear by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something
we all have to deal with
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Untitled 1. Now you are all here you might as well know ... by Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton
1. Now you are all here you might as well know this is America we do what we like.
2. Be spontaneous it is the right way.
3. Mothers you have met before still defy comprehension.
4. Our scene is foggy we are asking you to clarify.
5. Explains geomoetry of life. Where? At Catholic Worker.
6. Very glad you came. With our mouths full of cornflakes we were expecting an emergency.
7. Cynics declare you are in Greece.
8. Better get back quick before the place is all used up.
9. The night court: the mumbling judge: confused.
10. Well-wishers are there to meet you head on.
11. For the journal: soldiers, harbingers of change.
12. You came just in time, the score is even.
13. None of the machines has yet been broken.
14. Come on we know you have seen Popes.
15. People have been a little self-conscious around here in the emergency.
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Vapor Trail Reflected in the Frog Pond by Galway Kinnell
Galway Kinnell
1
The old watch: their
thick eyes
puff and foreclose by the moon. The young, heads
trailed by the beginnings of necks,
shiver,
in the guarantee they shall be bodies.

In the frog pond
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52
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Wildflowers by Richard Howard
Richard Howard
for Joseph Cady

Camden, 1882 Is it raining, Mary, can you see?
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78
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Yesterdays by Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
Sixty-two, sixty-three, I most remember
As time W. C. Williams dies and we are
Back from a hard two years in Guatemala
Where the meager provision of being
Schoolmaster for the kids of the patrones
Of two coffee plantations has managed
Neither a life nor money. Leslie dies in
Horror of bank giving way as she and her
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34
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To Whistler, American by Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
On the loan exhibit of his paintings at the Tate Gallery. You also, our first great,
Had tried all ways;
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30
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