I cannot dance, O Lord by Mechthild of Magdeburg
Mechthild of Magdeburg
I cannot dance, O Lord,
Unless You lead me.
If You wish me to leap joyfully,
Let me see You dance and sing—

Then I will leap into Love—
And from Love into Knowledge,
And from Knowledge into the Harvest,
The sweetest Fruit beyond human sense.
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The Painter by Duane Niatum
Duane Niatum
for Charles Krafft As salmon awaken to the pulsing dawn,
he hears night heron farther down the Skagit River.

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On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
Then Almitra spoke again and said, And
what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you
shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white
wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the
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No Encore by Betty Adcock
Betty Adcock
I'm just an assistant with the Vanishing Act.
My spangled wand points out the disappeared.
It's only a poor thing made of words, and lacks
the illusive power to light the darkling year.

Not prophecy, not elegy, but fact:
the thing that's gone is never coming back.

Late or soon a guttering silence will ring down
a curtain like woven smoke on thickening air.
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The Dance in Jinotega by Grace Paley
Grace Paley
In Jinotega women greeted us
with thousands of flowers roses
it was hard to tell the petals
on our faces and arms falling

then embraces and the Spanish language
which is a little like a descent of
petals pink and orange

Suddenly out of the hallway our
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Ballad of the Moon Moon by Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca
For Conchita García Lorca Moon came to the forge
in her petticoat of nard
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The Dancing by Gerald Stern
Gerald Stern
In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture
and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots
I have never seen a postwar Philco
with the automatic eye
nor heard Ravel's "Bolero" the way I did
in 1945 in that tiny living room
on Beechwood Boulevard, nor danced as I did
then, my knives all flashing, my hair all streaming,
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Expectans Expectavi by Charles Hamilton Sorley
Charles Hamilton Sorley

From morn to midnight, all day through,
I laugh and play as others do,
I sin and chatter, just the same
As others with a different name.

And all year long upon the stage
I dance and tumble and do rage
So vehemently, I scarcely see
The inner and eternal me.

I have a temple I do not
Visit, a heart I have forgot,
A self that I have never met,
A secret shrine—and yet, and yet
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Photographs by Ivor Gurney
Ivor Gurney

(To Two Scots Lads) Lying in dug-outs, joking idly, wearily;
Watching the candle guttering in the draught;
Hearing the great shells go high over us, eerily
Singing; how often have I turned over, and laughed
Read Poem

The Song of the Demented Priest by John Berryman
John Berryman
I put those things there.—See them burn.
The emerald the azure and the gold
Hiss and crack, the blues & greens of the world
As if I were tired. Someone interferes
Everywhere with me. The clouds, the clouds are torn
In ways I do not understand or love.

Licking my long lips, I looked upon God
And he flamed and he was friendlier
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Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley
Hilda Morley
A cold night crosses
our path
The world appears
very large, very
round now extending
far as the moon does
It is from
the moon this cold travels
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Meadowlark West by Philip Lamantia
Philip Lamantia
Choppers in the night husk the brilliants of thought
Beyond the cities of patina grow caves of thought
Coyote Hummingbird Owl are rivers of thought
The lumens the pumpkins dance: pits of correspondence over the land
Birds the dream tongues warble Iroquois Mojavé Ohlone
Market Street of “The Mad Doctor” via the occult centers
A gang of fox spirits at the crossroads
Bandoleros set between the obliteration of grizzly bears painted by an Arcimboldist and the monstrance of bleeding chains
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The Old Slave-Music by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
Blow back the breath of the bird,
Scatter the song through the air,
There was music you never heard,
And cannot hear anywhere.

It was not the sob of the vain
In the old, old dark so sweet,
(I shall never hear it again,)
Nor the coming of fairy feet.

It was music and music alone,
Not a sigh from a lover’s mouth;
Now it comes in a phantom moan
From the dead and buried South.

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The Sonnets: I by Ted Berrigan
Ted Berrigan
His piercing pince-nez. Some dim frieze
Hands point to a dim frieze, in the dark night.
In the book of his music the corners have straightened:
Which owe their presence to our sleeping hands.
The ox-blood from the hands which play
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A Lady Dressed By Youth by Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish
Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish
Her hair was curls of Pleasure and Delight,
Which on her brow did cast a glistening light.
As lace her bashful eyelids downward hung:
A modest countenance o'er her face was flung:
Blushes, as coral beads, she strung to wear
About her neck, and pendants for each ear:
Her gown was by Proportion cut and made,
With veins embroidered, with complexion laid,
Rich jewels of pure honor she did wear,
By noble actions brightened everywhere:
Thus dressed, to Fame's great court straightways she went,
To dance a brawl with Youth, Love, Mirth, Content.
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Song by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
Make and be eaten, the poet says,
Lie in the arms of nightlong fire,
To celebrate the waking, wake.
Burn in the daylong light; and praise
Even the mother unappeased,
Even the fathers of desire.

Blind go the days, but joy will see
Agreements of music; they will wind
The shaking of your dance; no more
Will the ambiguous arm-waves spell
Confusion of the blessing given.

Only and finally declare
Among the purest shapes of grace
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Love Song: I and Thou by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
Nothing is plumb, level, or square:
the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature, no piece fits
any other piece without a gap
or pinch, and bent nails
dance all over the surfacing
like maggots. By Christ
I am no carpenter. I built
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Phrases by Arthur Rimbaud
Arthur Rimbaud
When the world is reduced to a single dark wood for our two pairs of dazzled eyes—to a beach for two faithful children—to a musical house for our clear understanding—then I shall find you. When there is only one old man on earth, lonely, peaceful, handsome, living in unsurpassed luxury, then I am at your feet. When I have realized all your memories, —when I am the girl who can tie your hands,—then I will stifle you. When we are very strong, who draws back? or very happy, who collapses from ridicule? When we are very bad, what can they do to us.
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Moonlight by Paul Verlaine
Paul Verlaine
Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.

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April Midnight by Arthur Symons
Arthur Symons
Side by side through the streets at midnight,
Roaming together,
Through the tumultuous night of London,
In the miraculous April weather.

Roaming together under the gaslight,
Day’s work over,
How the Spring calls to us, here in the city,
Calls to the heart from the heart of a lover!
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Virtuosi by Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller
In memory of my parents People whose lives have been shaped
by history—and it is always tragic—
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spring song by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
the green of Jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious Jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of Jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
Read Poem

Kora in Hell: Improvisations XIV by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams

The brutal Lord of All will rip us from each other—leave the one to suffer here alone. No need belief in god or hell to postulate that much. The dance: hands touching, leaves touching—eyes looking, clouds rising—lips touching, cheeks touching, arm about . . . Sleep. Heavy head, heavy arm, heavy dream—: Of Ymir’s flesh the earth was made and of his thoughts were all the gloomy clouds created. Oya!

Out of bitterness itself the clear wine of the imagination will be pressed and the dance prosper thereby.

To you! whoever you are, wherever you are! (But I know where you are!) There’s Dürer’s “Nemesis” naked on her sphere over the little town by the river—except she’s too old. There’s a dancing burgess by Tenier and Villon’s maitresse—after he’d gone bald and was skin pocked and toothless: she that had him ducked in the sewage drain. Then there’s that miller’s daughter of “buttocks broad and breastes high.” Something of Nietzsche, something of the good Samaritan, something of the devil himself,—can cut a caper of a fashion, my fashion! Hey you, the dance! Squat. leap. Hips to the left. Chin—ha!—sideways! Stand up, stand up ma bonne! you’ll break my backbone. So again!—and so forth till we’re sweat soaked.

Some fools once were listening to a poet reading his poem. It so happened that the words of the thing spoke of gross matters of the everyday world such as are never much hidden from a quick eye. Out of these semblances, and borrowing certain members from fitting masterpieces of antiquity, the poet began piping up his music, simple fellow, thinking to please his listeners. But they getting the whole matter sadly muddled in their minds made such a confused business of listening that not only were they not pleased at the poet’s exertions but no sooner had he done than they burst out against him with violent imprecations.

It’s all one. Richard worked years to conquer the descending cadence, idiotic sentimentalist. Ha, for happiness! This tore the dress in ribbons from her maid’s back and not spared the nails either; wild anger spit from her pinched eyes! This is the better part. Or a child under a table to be dragged out coughing and biting, eyes glittering evilly. I’ll have it my way! Nothing is any pleasure but misery and brokenness. THIS is the only up-cadence. This is where the secret rolls over and opens its eyes. Bitter words spoken to a child ripple in morning light! Boredom from a bedroom doorway thrills with anticipation! The complaints of an old man dying piecemeal are starling chirrups. Coughs go singing on springtime paths across a field; corruption picks strawberries and slow warping of the mind, blacking the deadly walls—counted and recounted—rolls in the grass and shouts ecstatically. All is solved! The moaning and dull sobbing of infants sets blood tingling and eyes ablaze to listen. Speed sings in the heels at long nights tossing on coarse sheets with bruning sockets staring into the black. Dance! Sing! Coil and uncoil! Whip yourselves about! Shout the deliverance! An old woman has infected her blossomy grand-daughter with a blood illness that every two weeks drives the mother into hidden songs of agony, the pad-footed mirage of creeping death for music. The face muscles keep pace. Then a darting about the compass in a tarantelle that wears flesh from bones. Here is dancing! The mind in tatters. And so the music wistfully takes the lead. Ay de mí, Juana la Loca, reina de España, esa está tu canta, reina mía!
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No Images by William Waring Cuney
William Waring Cuney
She does not know
her beauty,
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.

If she could dance
under palm trees
and see her image in the river,
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In Time by W. S. Merwin
W. S. Merwin
The night the world was going to end
when we heard those explosions not far away
and the loudspeakers telling us
about the vast fires on the backwater
consuming undisclosed remnants
and warning us over and over
to stay indoors and make no signals
you stood at the open window
Read Poem

The Corn-Stalk Fiddle by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar
When the corn’s all cut and the bright stalks shine
Like the burnished spears of a field of gold;
When the field-mice rich on the nubbins dine,
And the frost comes white and the wind blows cold;
Then its heigho fellows and hi-diddle-diddle,
For the time is ripe for the corn-stalk fiddle.

And you take a stalk that is straight and long,
With an expert eye to its worthy points,
And you think of the bubbling strains of song
That are bound between its pithy joints—
Then you cut out strings, with a bridge in the middle,
With a corn-stalk bow for a corn-stalk fiddle.

Then the strains that grow as you draw the bow
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Keen and lovely man moved as in a dance by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
Keen and lovely man moved as in a dance
to be considerate in lighted, glass-walled
almost outdoor office. Business

wasn’t all he knew. He knew music, art.
Had a heart. “With eyes like yours I should think
the dictaphone” or did he say the flute?

His sensitivity—it stopped you.
And the neighbors said “She’s taking lessons
Read Poem

Watching dan-/ cers on skates by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
Ten thousand women
and I
the only one
in boots

Life’s dance:
they meet
he holds her leg
Read Poem

Peacock Display by David Wagoner
David Wagoner
He approaches her, trailing his whole fortune,
Perfectly cocksure, and suddenly spreads
The huge fan of his tail for her amazement.

Each turquoise and purple, black-horned, walleyed quill
Comes quivering forward, an amphitheatric shell
For his most fortunate audience: her alone.

He plumes himself. He shakes his brassily gold
Wings and rump in a dance, lifting his claws
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The Age Demanded by Ernest M. Hemingway
Ernest M. Hemingway
The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.
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Bath by Amy Lowell
Amy Lowell
The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots. The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.
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California Prodigal by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
FOR DAVID P—B The eye follows, the land
Slips upward, creases down, forms
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Daffodils by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
—for David Lehman

Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
—William Wordsworth

Going to hell so many times tears it
Which explains poetry.
—Jack Spicer
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Dance Piece by Ben Belitt
Ben Belitt the still point, there the dance is.
—T. S. Eliot The errand into the maze,
Emblem, the heel’s blow upon space,
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Dancing on the Grave of a Son of a Bitch by Diane Wakoski
Diane Wakoski
Foreword to “Dancing on the Grave of a Son of a Bitch”
This poem is more properly a “dance poem” than a song or chant because the element of repetition is created by movements of language rather than duplicating words and sounds. However, it is in the spirit of ritual recitation that I wrote it/ a performance to drive away bad spirits perhaps.

The story behind the poem is this: a man and woman who have been living together for some time separate. Part of the pain of separation involves possessions which they had shared. They both angrily believe they should have what they want. She asks for some possession and he denies her the right to it. She replies that she gave him money for a possession which he has and therefore should have what she wants now. He replies that she has forgotten that for the number of years they lived together he never charged her rent and if he had she would now owe him $7,000.

She is appalled that he equates their history with a sum of money. She is even more furious to realize that this sum of money represents the entire rent on the apartment and implies that he should not have paid anything at all. She is furious. She kills him mentally. Once and for all she decides she is well rid of this man and that she shouldn’t feel sad at their parting. She decides to prove to herself that she’s glad he’s gone from her life. With joy she will dance on all the bad memories of their life together.
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Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
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The Dead by Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.
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Revelation at Cap Ferrat by Clarence Major
Clarence Major
It’s not solely the dance
of the juggler but his spirit:
with its turkey wings, perfect thighs,
sensuous hips, large round flat eye.
This eye smiles like lips.
Watch this eye—
it’s not a donkey eye.

It’s not solely the dancer
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Song from a Country Fair by Léonie Adams
Léonie Adams
When tunes jigged nimbler than the blood
And quick and high the bows would prance
And every fiddle string would burst
To catch what’s lost beyond the string,
While half afraid their children stood,
I saw the old come out to dance.
The heart is not so light at first,
But heavy like a bough in spring.
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Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air IV-Cotillion by John Gay
John Gay
Act II, Scene iv, Air IV—Cotillion Youth’s the season made for joys,
Love is then our duty:
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Spring, the sweet spring by Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet spring!
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The Waking by Theodore Roethke
Theodore Roethke
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!I shall walk softly there,
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The Crane Dance by Yannis Ritsos
Yannis Ritsos
The clew paying out through his fingers, a deftness
that would bring him back to her, its softness the softness
of skin, as if drawn from herself directly, the faint
labial smell, guiding him up and out, as some dampness
on the air might lead a stone-blind man to the light.

Asterios dead for sure, his crumpled horn, his muzzle
thick with blood, so at Delos they stopped,
Theseus and the young Athenians, and stepped
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Poems by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore

Sing the song of the moment in careless carols, in the transient light of the day;
Sing of the fleeting smiles that vanish and never look back;
Sing of the flowers that bloom and fade without regret.
Weave not in memory’s thread the days that would glide into nights.
To the guests that must go bid God-speed, and wipe away all traces of their steps.
Let the moments end in moments with their cargo of fugitive songs.

With both hands snap the fetters you made with your own heart chords;
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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
Read Poem

The Baby's Dance by Ann Taylor
Ann Taylor

DANCE little baby, dance up high,
Never mind baby, mother is by ;
Crow and caper, caper and crow,
There little baby, there you go ;
Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,
Backwards and forwards, round and round ;
Dance little baby, and mother shall sing,
With the merry coral, ding, ding, ding.

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A Brown Girl Dead by Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen
With two white roses on her breasts,
White candles at head and feet,
Dark Madonna of the grave she rests;
Lord Death has found her sweet.

Her mother pawned her wedding ring
To lay her out in white;
She’d be so proud she’d dance and sing
To see herself tonight.
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Ca' the Yowes to the Knowes by Robert Burns
Robert Burns
Ca' the yowes to the knowes,
Ca' them where the heather grows
Ca' them where the burnie rows,
My bonie dearie.

Hark! the mavis' evening sang
Sounding Cluden's woods amang,
Then a-fauldin let us gang,
My bonie dearie.

We'll gae down by Cluden side,
Thro' the hazels spreading wide,
O'er the waves that sweetly glide
To the moon sae clearly.
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The Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing among the snow by William Blake
William Blake
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
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February Evening in New York by Denise Levertov
Denise Levertov
As the stores close, a winter light
opens air to iris blue,
glint of frost through the smoke
grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous
feet pattern the streets
in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
drift and dive above them; the bodies
Read Poem

Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
Read Poem

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
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I Went into the Maverick Bar by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder
I went into the Maverick Bar
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I’d left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
by the pool tables,
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In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 105 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
To-night ungather'd let us leave
This laurel, let this holly stand:
We live within the stranger's land,
And strangely falls our Christmas-eve.

Our father's dust is left alone
And silent under other snows:
There in due time the woodbine blows,
The violet comes, but we are gone.

No more shall wayward grief abuse
The genial hour with mask and mime;
For change of place, like growth of time,
Has broke the bond of dying use.

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In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 78 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Again at Christmas did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
The silent snow possess'd the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:

The yule-log sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.

As in the winters left behind,
Again our ancient games had place,
The mimic picture's breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

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The Laboratory by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly,
May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely,
As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s-smithy—
Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?

He is with her, and they know that I know
Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear
Empty church, to pray God in, for them!—I am here.

Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste,
Pound at thy powder,—I am not in haste!
Better sit thus and observe thy strange things,
Than go where men wait me and dance at the King’s.

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The Lady's Yes by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
" Yes !" I answered you last night ;
" No !" this morning, Sir, I say !
Colours, seen by candle-light,
Will not look the same by day.

When the tabors played their best,
Lamps above, and laughs below —
Love me sounded like a jest,
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little tree by E. E. Cummings
E. E. Cummings
little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

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Mary Morison by Robert Burns
Robert Burns
O Mary, at thy window be,
It is the wish'd, the trysted hour!
Those smiles and glances let me see,
That makes the miser's treasure poor:
How blythely wad I bide the stoure,
A weary slave frae sun to sun,
Could I the rich reward secure,
The lovely Mary Morison.

Yestreen when to the trembling string
The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha'
To thee my fancy took its wing,
I sat, but neither heard nor saw:
Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
And yon the toast of a' the town,
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the message of crazy horse by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
i would sit in the center of the world,
the Black Hills hooped around me and
dream of my dancing horse. my wife

was Black Shawl who gave me the daughter
i called They Are Afraid Of Her.
i was afraid of nothing

except Black Buffalo Woman.
my love for her i wore
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Mosaic by Linda Pastan
Linda Pastan

On this tile
the knife
like a sickle-moon hangs
in the painted air
as if it had learned a dance
of its own,
the way the boy has
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Nude Descending by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
Like a bowerbird trailing a beakful of weeds
Like prize ribbons for the very best

The lover, producer
Of another’s pleasure

He whom her swollen lips await
Might wing through any day of the decade

A form of health insurance
For which it is never too late
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of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
He was born in Alabama.
He was bred in Illinois.
He was nothing but a
Plain black boy.

Swing low swing low sweet sweet chariot.
Nothing but a plain black boy.

Drive him past the Pool Hall.
Drive him past the Show.
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Saturday Night by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
Music is most sovereign because more than anything
else, rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost
soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with
them and imparting grace.
—Plato, The Republic

The cranes are flying ...
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A Tale by Louise Bogan
Louise Bogan
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Thrice Toss These Oaken Ashes by Thomas Campion
Thomas Campion
Thrice toss these oaken ashes in the air,
Thrice sit thou mute in this enchanted chair,
Then thrice three times tie up this true love's knot,
And murmur soft "She will, or she will not."

Go burn these pois'nous weeds in yon blue fire,
These screech-owl's feathers and this prickling briar,
This cypress gathered at a dead man's grave,
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Bedtime Story by Charles Wright
Charles Wright
The generator hums like a distant ding an sich.
It's early evening, and time, like the dog it is,
is hungry for food,
And will be fed, don't doubt it, will be fed, my small one.
The forest begins to gather its silences in.
The meadow regroups and hunkers down
for its cleft feet.

Something is wringing the rag of sunlight
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Ephemeroptera by Miriam Vermilya
Miriam Vermilya
On a slab of Jurassic shale, an ovate
body, legs fine as eyelashes,
the mayfly's precise signature,
consummate, immortal.

Now its descendents, in a tumult
of mating, roil the air on Koerner's
sluggish creek below the hill
where the Ebenezer Baptist church,
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The Jester by Margaret Widdemer
Margaret Widdemer
I have known great gold Sorrows:
Majestic Griefs shall serve me watchfully
Through the slow-pacing morrows:
I have knelt hopeless where sea-echoing
Dim endless voices cried of suffering
Vibrant and far in broken litany:
Where white magnolia and tuberose hauntingly
Pulsed their regretful sweets along the air-—
All things most tragical, most fair,
Have still encompassed me . . .

I dance where in the screaming market-place
The dusty world that watches buys and sells,
With painted merriment upon my face,
Whirling my bells,
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