Funny

F
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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Spring and All: Chapter XIII Thus, weary of life by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
Thus, weary of life, in view of the great consummation which awaits us — tomorrow, we rush among our friends congratulating ourselves upon the joy soon to be. Thoughtless of evil we crush out the marrow of those about us with our heavy cars as we go happily from place to place. It seems that there is not time enough in which to speak the full of our exaltation. Only a day is left, one miserable day, before the world comes into its own. Let us hurry ! Why bother for this man or that ? In the offices of the great newspapers a mad joy reigns as they prepare the final extras. Rushing about, men bump each other into the whirring presses. How funny it seems. All thought of misery has left us. Why should we care ? Children laughingly fling themselves under the wheels of the street cars, airplanes crash gaily to the earth. Someone has written a poem.

Oh life, bizarre fowl, what color are your wings ? Green, blue, red, yellow, purple, white, brown, orange, black, grey ? In the imagination, flying above the wreck of ten thousand million souls, I see you departing sadly for the land of plants and insects, already far out to sea. (Thank you, I know well what I am plagiarising) Your great wings flap as you disappear in the distance over the pre-Columbian acres of floating weed.

The new cathedral overlooking the park, looked down from its towers today, with great eyes, and saw by the decorative lake a group of people staring curiously at the corpse of a suicide : Peaceful, dead young man, the money they have put into the stones has been spent to teach men of life’s austerity. You died and teach us the same lesson. You seem a cathedral, celebrant of the spring which shivers for me among the long black trees.
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Thirteen Implements by W. S. Graham
W. S. Graham
Do not allow me to sink, I said
To a top floating ribbon of kelp.
As I was lifted on each wave
And made to slide into the vale
I wanted not to drown. I wanted
To make it all right with my dear,
To tell my cat I’ll be away,
To have them all destroyed, the poems
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The Stray by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
One day, chasing my tail here and there,
I stopped to catch my breath
On some corner in New York,
While people hurried past me,
All determined to get somewhere,
Save a few adrift like lost children.

What ever became of my youth?
I wanted to stop a stranger and ask.
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Oedipal Strivings by Frederick Seidel
Frederick Seidel
A dinosaur egg opens in a lab
And out steps my paternal grandfather, Sam,
Already taller than a man,
And on his way to becoming a stomping mile-high predator, so I ran.
I never knew my mother’s father, who may have been a suicide.
He was buried in a pauper’s grave my mother tried
To find, without success. Jews grab
The thing they love unless it’s ham,
And hold it tightly to them lest it die—
Or like my mother try
To find the ham they couldn’t hold.
A hot ham does get cold.
Grampa, monster of malevolence,
I’m told was actually a rare old-fashioned gentleman of courtly benevolence.

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Madeleine in Church by Charlotte Mew
Charlotte Mew
Here, in the darkness, where this plaster saint
Stands nearer than God stands to our distress,
And one small candle shines, but not so faint
As the far lights of everlastingness,
I’d rather kneel than over there, in open day
Where Christ is hanging, rather pray
To something more like my own clay,
Not too divine;
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Ancestral Lines by David Ferry
David Ferry
It’s as when following the others’ lines,
Which are the tracks of somebody gone before,
Leaving me mischievous clues, telling me who

They were and who it was they weren’t,
And who it is I am because of them,
Or, just for the moment, reading them, I am,

Although the next moment I’m back in myself, and lost.
My father at the piano saying to me,
“Listen to this, he called the piece Warum?”

And the nearest my father could come to saying what
He made of that was lamely to say he didn’t,
Schumann didn’t, my father didn’t, know why.
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Enter a Cloud by W. S. Graham
W. S. Graham
1

Gently disintegrate me
Said nothing at all.

Is there still time to say
Said I myself lying
In a bower of bramble
Into which I have fallen.

Look through my eyes up
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Afternoon Happiness by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
for John At a party I spy a handsome psychiatrist,
And wish, as we all do, to get her advice for free.
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A Time of Bees by Mona Van Duyn
Mona Van Duyn
Love is never strong enough to find the words befitting it.
CAMUS All day my husband pounds on the upstairs porch.
Screeches and grunts of wood as the wall is opened
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Red Stains by Allen Tate
Allen Tate
In a pyloned desert where the scorpion reigns
My love and I plucked poppies breathing tales
Of crimes now long asleep, whose once–red stains
Dyed stabbing men, at sea with bloody sails.
The golden sand drowsed. There a dog yelped loud;
And in his cry rattled a hollow note
Of deep uncanny knowledge of that crowd
That loved and bled in winy times remote.
The poppies fainted when the moon came wide;
The cur lay still. Our passionate review
Of red wise folly dreamed on . . . She by my side
Stared at the Moon; and then I knew he knew.
And then he smiled at her; to him ’twas funny—
Her calm steel eyes, her earth–old throat of honey!

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A Man in Blue by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
Under the French horns of a November afternoon
a man in blue is raking leaves
with a wide wooden rake (whose teeth are pegs
or rather, dowels). Next door
boys play soccer: “You got to start
over!” sort of. A round attic window
in a radiant gray house waits like a kettledrum.
“You got to start . . .” The Brahmsian day
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The Key to the City by Anne Winters
Anne Winters
All middle age invisible to us, all age
passed close enough behind to seize our napehairs
and whisper in a voice all thatch and smoke
some village-elder warning, some rasped-out
Remember me . . . Mute and grey in her city
uniform (stitch-lettered JUVENILE), the matron
just pointed us to our lockers, and went out.
‘What an old bag!’ ‘Got a butt on you, honey?’ ‘Listen,
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Knucks by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
In Abraham Lincoln’s city,
Where they remember his lawyer’s shingle,
The place where they brought him
Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories
From Tallahassee to the Yukon,
The place now where the shaft of his tomb
Points white against the blue prairie dome,
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Thoughts on One’s Head by William Meredith
William Meredith
(In Plaster, with a Bronze Wash) A person is very self-conscious about his head.
It makes one nervous just to know it is cast
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The Wreck of the Thresher by William Meredith
William Meredith
(Lost at Sea, April 10, 1963) I stand on the ledge where rock runs into the river
As the night turns brackish with morning, and mourn the drowned.
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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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And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
You can’t say it that way any more.
Bothered about beauty you have to
Come out into the open, into a clearing,
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you
Is OK. To demand more than this would be strange
Of you, you who have so many lovers,
People who look up to you and are willing
To do things for you, but you think
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The Book of the Dead Man (#15) by Marvin Bell
Marvin Bell
1. About the Dead Man and Rigor Mortis

The dead man thinks his resolve has stiffened when the
ground dries.
Feeling the upward flow of moisture, the dead man thinks his
resolve has stiffened.
The dead man’s will, will be done.
The dead man’s backbone stretches from rung to rung, from here to
tomorrow, from a fabricated twinge to virtual agony.
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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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Hymn to Life by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
The wind rests its cheek upon the ground and feels the cool damp
And lifts its head with twigs and small dead blades of grass
Pressed into it as you might at the beach rise up and brush away
The sand. The day is cool and says, “I’m just staying overnight.”
The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made:
There goes a plane, some cars, geese that honk and, not here, but
Not so far away, a scream so rending that to hear it is to be
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Love Again by Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he’s taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery.

Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt,
Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
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Vers de Société by Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.
Day comes to an end.
The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid—

Funny how hard it is to be alone.
I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
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A Wasp Woman Visits a Black Junkie in Prison by Etheridge Knight
Etheridge Knight
After explanations and regulations, he
Walked warily in.
Black hair covered his chin, subscribing to
Villainous ideal.
“This can not be real,” he thought, “this is a
Classical mistake;
This is a cake baked with embarrassing icing;
Somebody’s got
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Writ on the Eve of My 32nd Birthday by Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso
a slow thoughtful spontaneous poem I am 32 years old
and finally I look my age, if not more.

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A Poem For Dada Day At The Place April 1, 1958 by Jack Spicer
Jack Spicer
I
The bartender
Has eyes the color of ripe apricots
Easy to please as a cash register he
Enjoys art and good jokes.
Squish
Goes the painting
Squirt
Goes the poem
He
We
Laugh.

II
It is not easy to remember that other people died
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Badman of the Guest Professor by Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed
for Joe Overstreet, David Henderson, Albert Ayler & d mysterious ‘H’ who cut up d Rembrandts i

u worry me whoever u are
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Learning the Trees by Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov
Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,
Out of a book, which now you think of it
Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.
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Maternal by Gail Mazur
Gail Mazur
On the telephone, friends mistake us now
when we first say hello—not after.
And that oddly optimistic lilt
we share nourishes my hopes:
we do sound happy. . . .

Last night, in my dream’s crib,
a one-day infant girl.
I wasn’t totally unprepared—
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Music Swims Back to Me by Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton
Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
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My Generation Reading the Newspapers by Kenneth Patchen
Kenneth Patchen
We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman's stare with some esteem,
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words—
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men
who say goodbye to the wives and homes
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The Prospector by Robert W. Service
Robert W. Service
I strolled up old Bonanza, where I staked in ninety-eight,
A-purpose to revisit the old claim.
I kept thinking mighty sadly of the funny ways of Fate,
And the lads who once were with me in the game.
Poor boys, they’re down-and-outers, and there’s scarcely one to-day
Can show a dozen colors in his poke;
And me, I’m still prospecting, old and battered, gaunt and gray,
And I’m looking for a grub-stake, and I’m broke.
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The Raggedy Man by James Whitcomb Riley
James Whitcomb Riley
O the Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
An' he's the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An' waters the horses, an' feeds 'em hay;
An' he opens the shed—an' we all ist laugh
When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
An' nen—ef our hired girl says he can—
He milks the cow fer 'Lizabuth Ann.—
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Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward by Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton
Child, the current of your breath is six days long.
You lie, a small knuckle on my white bed;
lie, fisted like a snail, so small and strong
at my breast. Your lips are animals; you are fed
with love. At first hunger is not wrong.
The nurses nod their caps; you are shepherded
down starch halls with the other unnested throng
in wheeling baskets. You tip like a cup; your head
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The Voyage Home by Philip Appleman
Philip Appleman
The social instincts ...
naturally lead to the golden rule.
—CHARLES DARWIN, The Descent of Man 1
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