Wild Bees by James K. Baxter
James K. Baxter
Often in summer, on a tarred bridge plank standing,
Or downstream between willows, a safe Ophelia drifting
In a rented boat — I had seen them come and go,
Those wild bees swift as tigers, their gauze wings a-glitter
In passionless industry, clustering black at the crevice
Of a rotten cabbage tree, where their hive was hidden low.

But never strolled too near. Till one half-cloudy evening
Of ripe January, my friends and I
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And Now She Has Disappeared in Water by Diane Wakoski
Diane Wakoski
For Marilyn who died in January april 1
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Arrival at Santos by Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery;
impractically shaped and—who knows?—self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,

with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you
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The Girls of Winter by Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison
Out the window of the bar I’m watching
a circle of girls stretching and yawning
across the street. It’s late January and 74
degrees. They love the heat because
they are a moist heat. Heat loves
heat and today is a tease for what comes
with spring around here when the glorious birds
funnel back up from Mexico. The girls
don’t care about birds because they are birds.
I recall in high school a half dozen
cheerleaders resting on a wrestling mat
in short shorts in the gym, me beside them
with a silly groin ache. What were they?
Living, lovely, warm meat as we all are
reaching out of our bodies for someone else.
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The Test of Fantasy by Joanne Kyger
Joanne Kyger

It unfolds and ripples like a banner, downward. All the stories
come folding out. The smells and flowers begin to come back, as
the tapestry is brightly colored and brocaded. Rabbits and violets.

Who asked you to come over? She got her foot in the door and
would not remove it, elbowing and talking swiftly. Gas leak?
that sounds like a very existential position; perhaps you had
better check with the landlord.
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An Offering for Patricia by Anthony Hecht
Anthony Hecht

The work has been going forward with the greatest difficulty, chiefly because I cannot concentrate. I have no feeling about whether what I am writing is good or bad, and the whole business is totally without excitement and pleasure for me. And I am sure I know the reason. It’s that I can’t stand leaving unresolved my situation with Pat. I hear from her fairly frequently, asking when I plan to come back, and she knows that I am supposed to appear at the poetry reading in the middle of January. It is not mainly loneliness I feel, though I feel it; but I have been lonely before. It is quite frankly the feeling that nothing is really settled between us, and that in the mean time I worry about how things are going to work out. This has made my work more difficult than it has ever been before.

– From a letter to his parents dated November 9, 1955, Rome.

Hardly enough for me that the pail of water
Alive with the wrinkling light
Brings clearness home and whiter
Than mind conceives the walls mature to white,
Or that the washed tomatoes whose name is given
To love fulfill their bowl
And the Roman sea is woven
Together by threading fish and made most whole.

I delight in each of these, delight moreover
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Charley by Stephen Sandy
Stephen Sandy
Minnesota, May 1945
DMZ, September 1967
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Kora in Hell: Improvisations XXII by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams

This is a slight stiff dance to a waking baby whose arms have been lying curled back above his head upon the pillow, making a flower—the eyes closed. Dead to the world! Waking is a little hand brushing away dreams. Eyes open. Here’s a new world.

There is nothing the sky-serpent will not eat. Sometimes it stops to gnaw Fujiyama, sometimes to slip its long and softly clasping tongue about the body of a sleeping child who smiles thinking its mother is lifting it.

2 Security, solidity—we laugh at them in our clique. It is tobacco to us, this side of her leg. We put it in our samovar and make tea of it. You see the stuff has possibilities. You think you are opposing the rich but the truth is you’re turning toward authority yourself, to say nothing of religion. No, I do not say it means nothing. Why everything is nicely adjusted to our moods. But I would rather describe to you what I saw in the kitchen last night—overlook the girl a moment: there over the sink (1) this saucepan holds all, (2) this colander holds most, (3) this wire sieve lets most go and (4) this funnel holds nothing. You appreciate the progression. What need then to be always laughing? Quit phrase making—that is, not of course—but you will understand me or if not—why—come to breakfast sometime around evening on the fourth of January any year you please; always be punctual where eating is concerned.

My little son’s improvisations exceed min: a round stone to him’s a loaf of bread or “this hen could lay a dozen golden eggs.” Birds fly about his bedstead; giants lean over him with hungry jaws; bears roam the farm by summer and are killed and quartered at a thought. There are interminable stories at eating time full of bizarre imagery, true grotesques, pigs that change to dogs in the telling, cows that sing, roosters that become mountains and oceans that fill a soup plate. There are groans and growls, dun clouds and sunshine mixed in a huge phantasmagoria that never rests, never ceased to unfold into—the day’s poor little happenings. Not that alone. He has music which I have not. His tunes follow no scale, no rhythm—alone the mood in odd ramblings up and down, over and over with a rigor of invention that rises beyond the power to follow except in some more obvious flight. Never have I heard so crushing a critique as those desolate inventions, involved half-hymns, after his first visit to a Christian Sunday school.

This song is to Phyllis! By this deep snow I know it’s springtime, not ring time! Good God no! The screaming brat’s a sheep bleating, the rattling crib-side sheep shaking a bush. We are young! We are happy! says Colin. What’s an icy room and the sun not up? This song is to Phyllis. Reproduction lets death in, says Joyce. Rot, say I. to Phyllis this song is!

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I was Wash-Way in Blood by Kamau Brathwaite
Kamau Brathwaite
The Barbados Advocate, Thursday, January 19, 1995, page 4 MILDRED COLLYMORE told the No. 3 Supreme Court yesterday that when she recovered from an attack with a stone she found herself "washed-way" in blood.

Collymore said also that accused Philamena Hinds came back to move the rock but she would not let her.
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Casualty by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
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A January Dandelion by George Marion McClellan
George Marion McClellan
All Nashville is a chill. And everywhere
Like desert sand, when the winds blow,
There is each moment sifted through the air,
A powdered blast of January snow.
O! thoughtless Dandelion, to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.
And yet, thou blasted yellow-coated gem,
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The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
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A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death by Jupiter Hammon
Jupiter Hammon

O Ye young and thoughtless youth,
Come seek the living God,
The scriptures are a sacred truth,
Ye must believe the word.
Eccl. xii. 1.


Tis God alone can make you wise,
His wisdom’s from above,
He fills the soul with sweet supplies
By his redeeming love.
Prov. iv. 7.
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“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face” by Osip Mandelstam
Osip Mandelstam
Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.
It’s going nowhere, and I—from nowhere.
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:
Miraculous, the breathing plain.

Meanwhile the sun squints at this starched poverty—
The squint itself consoled, at ease . . .
The ten-fold forest almost the same . . .
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread.
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from Curriculum Vitae by Yoel Hoffmann
Yoel Hoffmann
Master Hirano came from Japan together with a priest from the Kegon sect and the two of them drank beer all night at the Avia Hotel next to Ben Gurion airport.
The following day, when we came to take them to the Galilee, they had trouble getting up and barely checked out of their rooms on time.
It was a wintry January morning, and near the village of Shefaram the priest from the Kegon sect asked us to stop and stood by the side of the road and urinated.

On Friday the two of them (Master Hirano and the priest from the Kegon sect) went to the Bratslav Hasids’ synagogue in Safed. The worshippers swayed like trees in the wind. Master Hirano and the priest from the Kegon sect stood there, bald and wrapped in robes, behind the congregation, and the beadle whispered into our ears: Are they Jews? Are they Jews?
When we left the synagogue Master Hirano said to the priest from the Kegon sect: There is no doubt that they understand what devotion (he said shujaku) is. The priest from the Kegon sect said: There is no doubt. They know what devotion is.
On Jerusalem Street, by the monument of the mortar, commemorating the ’48 war, Master Hirano said: Prayer is a good thing. The priest from the Kegon sect said: There is no doubt. Prayer is a good thing.
Master Hirano stood on one side of the mortar and the priest from the Kegon sect stood on the other and the moon rose, big and full, yellow like the fields painted by Van Gogh.

* * *

It’s possible to write only by means of non-writing. When things come from the opposite direction.
My aunt Edith rises out of the ground and returns to her bed in the nursing home. Ursula, my stepmother, is walking backward. All sorts of wilted flowers bring their petals toward themselves.
All we need is yogurt and a spoon. We’ll know what to do with the spoon. We’ll lead it toward the right place (which is to say, the yogurt) and from there toward the mouth. But the mouth can’t be fathomed. Likewise the word that stands for it (mouth) is strange in the extreme.
Or take, for example, the hand that’s holding the spoon with its five tragic fingers. There’s no logic whatsoever in there being five. Like five widows who’ve gathered because their husbands have died, and they allow themselves this movement through the air in order to keep from losing their minds.
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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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Father Son and Holy Ghost by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
I have not ever seen my father’s grave.

Not that his judgment eyes
have been forgotten
nor his great hands’ print
on our evening doorknobs
one half turn each night
and he would come
drabbled with the world’s business
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Firstlings by Louise Imogen Guiney
Louise Imogen Guiney
(January 7, 1915) In the dregs of the year, all steam and rain,
In the timid time of the heart again,
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Almond Blossom by D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
Even iron can put forth,
Even iron.

This is the iron age,
But let us take heart
Seeing iron break and bud,
Seeing rusty iron puff with clouds of blossom.

The almond-tree,
December's bare iron hooks sticking out of earth.
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Crossing the Square by Grace Schulman
Grace Schulman
Squinting through eye-slits in our balaclavas,
we lurch across Washington Square Park
hunched against the wind, two hooded figures
caught in the monochrome, carrying sacks

of fruit, as we’ve done for years. The frosted, starch-
stiff sycamores make a lean Christmas tree
seem to bulk larger, tilted under the arch
and still lit in three colors. Once in January,
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The Spring by Thomas Carew
Thomas Carew
Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array
Welcome the coming of the long'd-for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
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Dio Ed Io by Charles Wright
Charles Wright
There is a heaviness between us,
Nameless, raised from the void, that counts out the sprung hours.
What ash has it come to purify?
What disappearance, like water, does it lift up to the clouds?

God of my fathers, but not of mine,
You are a part, it is said, an afterthought, a scattered one.
There is a disappearance between us as heavy as dirt.
What figure of earth and clay would it have me become?

Sunday again, January thaw back big time.
The knock-kneed, overweight boys and girls
Sit on the sun-warmed concrete sidewalk outside the pharmacy
Smoking their dun-filtered cigarettes.

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The Months by Linda Pastan
Linda Pastan

Contorted by wind,
mere armatures for ice or snow,
the trees resolve
to endure for now,

they will leaf out in April.
And I must be as patient
as the trees—
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