Mirror

M
Images by Bert Meyers
Bert Meyers
for Odette I

Bales of hay—cartons
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42
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Sex, Night by Alejandra Pizarnik
Alejandra Pizarnik
Once again, someone falls in their first falling–fall of two bodies, of two eyes, of four green eyes or eight green eyes if we count those born in the mirror (at midnight, in the purest fear, in the loss), you haven’t been able to recognize the voice of your dull silence, to see the earthly messages scrawled in the middle of one mad state, when the body is a glass and from ourselves and from the other we drink some kind of impossible water.
Desire needlessly spills on me a cursed liqueur. For my thirsty thirst, what can the promise of eyes do? I speak of something not in this world. I speak of someone whose purpose is elsewhere.
And I was naked in memory of the white night. Drunk and I made love all night, just like a sick dog.
Sometimes we suffer too much reality in the space of a single night. We get undressed, we’re horrified. We’re aware the mirror sounds like a watch, the mirror from which your cry will pour out, your laceration.
Night opens itself only once. It’s enough. You see. You’ve seen. Fear of being two in the mirror, and suddenly we’re four. We cry, we moan, my fear, my joy more horrible than my fear, my visceral words, my words are keys that lock me into a mirror, with you, but ever alone. And I am well aware what night is made of. We’ve fallen so completely into jaws that didn’t expect this sacrifice, this condemnation of my eyes which have seen. I speak of a discovery: felt the I in sex, sex in the I. I speak of burying everyday fear to secure the fear of an instant. The purest loss. But who’ll say: you don’t cry anymore at night? Because madness is also a lie. Like night. Like death.
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In an Artist's Studio by Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel — every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more or less.
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80
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The Uncreating Chaos by Stephen Spender
Stephen Spender
(Double Portrait in a Mirror) I
To the meeting despair of eyes in the street, offer
Your eyes on plates and your liver on skewers of pity.
When the Jericho sky is heaped with clouds which the sun
Trumpets above, respond to Apocalypse
With a headache. In spirit follow
The young men to the war, up Everest. Be shot.
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Propositions by Stephen Dunn
Stephen Dunn
Anyone who begins a sentence with, “In all honesty ... ”
is about to tell a lie. Anyone who says, “This is how I feel”
had better love form more than disclosure. Same for anyone
who thinks he thinks well because he had a thought.

If  you say, “You’re ugly” to an ugly person — no credit
for honesty, which must always be a discovery, an act
that qualifies as an achievement. If  you persist
you’re just a cruel bastard, a pig without a mirror,
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Widening Income Inequality by Frederick Seidel
Frederick Seidel
I live a life of appetite and, yes, that's right,
I live a life of privilege in New York,
Eating buttered toast in bed with cunty fingers on Sunday morning.
Say that again?
I have a rule—
I never give to beggars in the street who hold their hands out.

I woke up this morning in my air-conditioning.
At the end of my legs were my feet.
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45
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The Girl on the Bullard Overpass by Peter Everwine
Peter Everwine

The girl on the Bullard overpass
looks happy to be there, getting soaked
in a light rain but waving her hands
to the four o'clock freeway traffic
in which I'm anything but happy.

You might think she's too dumb
to come in out of the rain, but rain
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41
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Joan Miró by Shuzo Takiguchi
Shuzo Takiguchi
The wind’s tongue.
The always clear cobalt sky
bit at
your painting.
In a prehistoric poster
words doze like pebbles.

A gallop of  feathers
kidnaps
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René Magritte by Shuzo Takiguchi
Shuzo Takiguchi
Released silhouettes
flow incessantly like water,
flow between mountains
swiftly like a kaleidoscope.
The solitude of  the North Pole
bustles with human silhouettes.
Endless transmission of  ABC.

On the shredded shore
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27
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Reflective by A. R. Ammons
A. R. Ammons
I found a
weed
that had a

mirror in it
and that
mirror

looked in at
a mirror
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33
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The Rear-Guard by Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon

(Hindenburg Line, April 1917) Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

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42
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Self-Portrait, 1969 by Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart
He's still young—; thirty, but looks younger—
or does he? . . . In the eyes and cheeks, tonight,
turning in the mirror, he saw his mother,—
puffy; angry; bewildered . . . Many nights
now, when he stares there, he gets angry:—
something unfulfilled there, something dead
to what he once thought he surely could be—
Now, just the glamour of habits . . .
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30
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Clock by Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy
In the warm air of the ceiling the footlights of dreams are illuminated. The white walls have curved. The burdened chest breathes confused words. In the mirror, the wind from the south spins, 
carrying leaves and feathers. The window is blocked. The heart is 
almost extinguished among the already cold ashes of the moon — the hands are without shelter ­­­­— as all the trees lying down. In the wind from the desert the needles bend and my hour is past.
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33
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A Little Washington DC Dream by Philip Lamantia
Philip Lamantia
The Due D’Aumal’s cannonballs
Are being marshmellowed 370 years from their masonic inception
Now lie on the Potomac
The Due D’Aumal’s balls cannonaded
Split
Through mirror teeth Washington D.C.
Black City of white rectangular bits of fear
Blown fluff of fear
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The Heavenly City by Stevie Smith
Stevie Smith
I sigh for the heavenly country,
Where the heavenly people pass,
And the sea is as quiet as a mirror
Of beautiful beautiful glass.

I walk in the heavenly field,
With lilies and poppies bright,
I am dressed in a heavenly coat
Of polished white.
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To the One Who is Reading Me by Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
You are invulnerable. Didn’t they deliver
(those forces that control your destiny)
the certainty of dust? Couldn’t it be
your irreversible time is that river
in whose bright mirror Heraclitus read
his brevity? A marble slab is saved
for you, one you won’t read, already graved
with city, epitaph, dates of the dead.
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54
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Never Mind by Dorothea Tanning
Dorothea Tanning
Never mind the pins
And needles I am on.
Let all the other instruments
Of torture have their way.
While air-conditioners
Freeze my coffee
I watch the toaster
Eating my toast.
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37
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Desert by Adonis
Adonis
The cities dissolve, and the earth is a cart loaded with dust
Only poetry knows how to pair itself to this space.

No road to this house, a siege,
and his house is graveyard.
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50
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Mirrors at 4 a.m. by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadow,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in return.

The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
A pretense.
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Buddhist New Year Song by Diane di Prima
Diane di Prima
I saw you in green velvet, wide full sleeves
seated in front of a fireplace, our house
made somehow more gracious, and you said
“There are stars in your hair”— it was truth I
brought down with me

to this sullen and dingy place that we must make golden
make precious and mythical somehow, it is our nature,
and it is truth, that we came here, I told you,
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The Suicide by John Wieners
John Wieners
Yes I put her away.
But now life flares up
As safe as China in a cup
You hear the droppings
of her heart.

Leaves rustle on the windowpane.
Three o’clock turns round again.
The man in the moon grows full
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37
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The Unfaithful Housewife by Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca

For Mary Peace Then I led her to the river
certain she was still a virgin
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36
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Intensive Care Unit by Adrien Stoutenburg
Adrien Stoutenburg
In one corner of the ward
somebody was eating a raw chicken.
The cheerful nurses did not see.
With the tube down my throat
I could not tell them.
Nor did they notice the horror show
on the TV set suspended over my windowless bed.
The screen was dead
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51
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Palindrome by Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller
There is less difficulty—indeed, no logical difficulty at all—in
imagining two portions of the universe, say two galaxies, in which
time goes one way in one galaxy and the opposite way in the
other. . . . Intelligent beings in each galaxy would regard their own
time as “forward” and time in the other galaxy as “backward.”
—Martin Gardner, in Scientific American
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43
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Murmurs from the earth of this land by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
Murmurs from the earth of this land, from the caves and craters,
from the bowl of darkness. Down watercourses of our
dragon childhood, where we ran barefoot.
We stand as growing women and men. Murmurs come down
where water has not run for sixty years.
Murmurs from the tulip tree and the catalpa, from the ax of
the stars, from the house on fire, ringing of glass; from
the abandoned iron-black mill.
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37
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from The Ambition of Ghosts:  I. Remembering into Sleep by Rosmarie Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
I. Separation Precedes Meeting

The cat so close
to the fire
I smell scorched
breath. Parents,
silent, behind me,
a feeling of
trees that might fall.
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41
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The Round World by Rosmarie Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
nature’s inside, says Cézanne and
frightening
I do not like the fleshy
echo


even so, it is


after this close proof
vision is made
of matter
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34
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Love Song by Henry Dumas
Henry Dumas
Beloved,
I have to adore the earth:

The wind must have heard
your voice once.
It echoes and sings like you.

The soil must have tasted
you once.
It is laden with your scent.
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48
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In Oklahoma by Carter Revard
Carter Revard
When you leave a Real City, as Gertrude Stein did, and go to Oakland, as she did, you can say, as she did, there is no there, there. When you are a Hartford insurance executive, as Wallace Stevens was, and you have never been to Oklahoma, as he had not, you can invent people to dance there, as he did, and you can name them Bonnie and Josie. But a THERE depends on how, in the beginning, the wind breathes upon its surface. Shh: amethyst, sapphire. Lead. Crystal mirror. See, a cow-pond in Oklahoma. Under willows now, so the Osage man fishing there is in the shade. A bobwhite whistles from his fencepost, a hundred yards south of the pond. A muskrat-head draws a nest of Vs up to the pond’s apex, loses them there in the reeds and sedges where a redwing blackbird, with gold and scarlet epaulets flashing, perches on the jiggly buttonwood branch. Purple martins skim the pond, dip and sip, veer and swoop, check, pounce, crisscross each other’s flashing paths. His wife in the Indian Hospital with cancer. Children in various unhappiness. White clouds sail slowly across the pure blue pond. Turtles poke their heads up, watch the Indian man casting, reeling, casting, reeling. A bass strikes, is hooked, fights, is reeled in, pulls away again, is drawn back, dragged ashore, put on the stringer. In Oklahoma, Wally, here is Josie’s father. Something that is going to be nothing, but isn’t. Watch: now he takes the bass home, cleans and fries it. Shall I tell you a secret, Gert? You have to be there before it’s there. Daddy, would you pass them a plate of fish? See friends, it’s not a flyover here. Come down from your planes and you’ll understand. Here.
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33
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In Beauty Bright by Gerald Stern
Gerald Stern
In beauty-bright and such it was like Blake’s
lily and though an angel he looked absurd
dragging a lily out of a beauty-bright store
wrapped in tissue with a petal drooping,
nor was it useless—you who know it know
how useful it is—and how he would be dead
in a minute if he were to lose it though
how do you lose a lily? His lily was white
and he had a foolish smile there holding it up like
a candelabrum in his right hand facing the
mirror in the hall nor had the endless
centuries started yet nor was there one thorn
between his small house and the beauty-bright store.
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47
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On the Great Atlantic Rainway by Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch
I set forth one misted white day of June
Beneath the great Atlantic rainway, and heard:
“Honestly you smite worlds of truth, but
Lose your own trains of thought, like a pigeon.
Did you once ride in Kenneth’s machine?”
“Yes, I rode there, an old man in shorts, blind,
Who had lost his way in the filling station; Kenneth was kind.”
“Did he fill your motionless ears with resonance and stain?”
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For Gustave Moreau by Robin Blaser
Robin Blaser
The streets are my body
or rather the wish
of the skin to put on
the grass in a gold rain

not vice-versa,
the lips twisting to allow
the tongue to play in
the broken mirror on the floor
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35
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A Literalist by Robin Blaser
Robin Blaser
the root and mirror
of a plant
its shape
and power familiar
iris

the light is disturbed by
the boxwood leaves
shining
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37
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Perspectives by R. S. Thomas
R. S. Thomas
Primeval

Beasts rearing from green slime—
an illiterate country, unable to read
its own name. Stones moved into position
on the hills’ sides; snakes laid their eggs
in their cold shadow. The earth suffered
the sky’s shrapnel, bled yellow
into the enraged sea. At night heavily
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39
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Late Ripeness by Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz
Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.
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Before the Mirror by Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
Now like the Lady of Shalott,
I dwell within an empty room,
And through the day and through the night
I sit before an ancient loom.

And like the Lady of Shalott
I look into a mirror wide,
Where shadows come, and shadows go,
And ply my shuttle as they glide.

Not as she wove the yellow wool,
Ulysses’ wife, Penelope;
By day a queen among her maids,
But in the night a woman, she,

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Athena by Amy Clampitt
Amy Clampitt
Force of reason, who shut up the shrill
foul Furies in the dungeon of the Parthenon,
led whimpering to the cave they live in still,

beneath the rock your city foundered on:
who, equivocating, taught revenge to sing
(or seem to, or be about to) a kindlier tune:

mind that can make a scheme of anything—
a game, a grid, a system, a mere folder
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51
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Let Us Consider by Russell Edson
Russell Edson
Let us consider the farmer who makes his straw hat his
sweetheart; or the old woman who makes a floor lamp her son;
or the young woman who has set herself the task of scraping
her shadow off a wall....

Let us consider the old woman who wore smoked cows’
tongues for shoes and walked a meadow gathering cow chips
in her apron; or a mirror grown dark with age that was given
to a blind man who spent his nights looking into it, which
saddened his mother, that her son should be so lost in
vanity....

Let us consider the man who fried roses for his dinner,
whose kitchen smelled like a burning rose garden; or the man
who disguised himself as a moth and ate his overcoat, and for
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35
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from Light: Men’s Voices by Inger Christensen
Inger Christensen
Men’s voices in the dark
—once in a temple—
men’s voices in the sun
—once I was caryatid
number nine—
men’s voices in the park
—I was a statue
untouchable naked
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White Heliotrope by Arthur Symons
Arthur Symons
The feverish room and that white bed,
The tumbled skirts upon a chair,
The novel flung half-open, where
Hat, hair-pins, puffs, and paints are spread;

The mirror that has sucked your face
Into its secret deep of deeps,
And there mysteriously keeps
Forgotten memories of grace;

And you half dressed and half awake,
Your slant eyes strangely watching me,
And I, who watch you drowsily,
With eyes that, having slept not, ache;

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The Letter Scale by Jacques Réda
Jacques Réda
One of the objects I've treasured most in my life
Is this letter scale which, long ago, you gave me.
I was an active correspondent at the time,
Even sending lots of letters overseas.
While still enjoying the pleasure of going to the post,
I now had another: assessing exactly, in advance,
At my counter, the cost of packets and envelopes,
To which, price list in hand, I stuck my stamps.
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The Afternoon Sun by C. P. Cavafy
C. P. Cavafy
This room, how well I know it.
Now they’re renting it, and the one next to it,
as offices. The whole house has become
an office building for agents, businessmen, companies.

This room, how familiar it is.

The couch was here, near the door,
a Turkish carpet in front of it.
Close by, the shelf with two yellow vases.
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Angellica’s Lament by Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Had I remained in innocent security,
I should have thought all men were born my slaves,
And worn my power like lightning in my eyes,
To have destroyed at pleasure when offended.
—But when love held the mirror, the undeceiving glass
Reflected all the weakness of my soul, and made me know
My richest treasure being lost, my honour,
All the remaining spoil could not be worth
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40
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An Argument by Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss
When you said that you wanted to be useful
as the days of the week, I said, “God bless you.”
Then you said you would not trade our Mondays,
useful for two thousand years,
for the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
I said, “Endless are the wonders
to which I can only say ‘ah,’ that our ‘Ah’
who art in heaven can easily become the
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40
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The Children of Stare by Walter de La Mare
Walter de La Mare
Winter is fallen early
On the house of Stare;
Birds in reverberating flocks
Haunt its ancestral box;
Bright are the plenteous berries
In clusters in the air.

Still is the fountain’s music,
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33
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Damselfly, Trout, Heron by John Engels
John Engels
The damselfly folds its wings
over its body when at rest. Captured,
it should not be killed
in cyanide, but allowed to die
slowly: then the colors,
especially the reds and blues,
will last. In the hand
it crushes easily into a rosy
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33
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Dancers Exercising by Amy Clampitt
Amy Clampitt
Frame within frame, the evolving conversation
is dancelike, as though two could play
at improvising snowflakes’
six-feather-vaned evanescence,
no two ever alike. All process
and no arrival: the happier we are,
the less there is for memory to take hold of,
or—memory being so largely a predilection
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26
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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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41
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It Is There by Babette Deutsch
Babette Deutsch
These are the streets where we walked with war and childhood
Like our two shadows behind us, or
Before us like one shadow.
River walks
Threaded by park rats, flanked by battleships,
Flickering of a grey tail on the bank,
Motionless hulls
Enormous under a dead grey sky.
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Life Story by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
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Morning Song by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
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OVERNIGHT GUEST by Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone
Waiting for your ride in front of the house
where you spent the night,
where, as a third ear
during their endless intimate,
important, and kinky phone calls,
you pretended to rinse glassware;
you were a dog from the pound,
grateful, sniffing the upholstery.
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30
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The Pool by Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
My embarrassment at his nakedness,
at the pool’s edge,
and my wife, with his,
standing, watching—

this was a freedom
not given me who am
more naked,
less contained
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Return to Rome by Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss
Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
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Robinson by Weldon Kees
Weldon Kees
The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over. The world is a gray world,
Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano,
The nightmare chase well under way.

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

Which is all of the room—walls, curtains,
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Third Avenue in Sunlight by Anthony Hecht
Anthony Hecht
Third Avenue in sunlight. Nature’s error.
Already the bars are filled and John is there.
Beneath a plentiful lady over the mirror
He tilts his glass in the mild mahogany air.

I think of him when he first got out of college,
Serious, thin, unlikely to succeed;
For several months he hung around the Village,
Boldly T-shirted, unfettered but unfreed.
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'Be Music, Night' by Kenneth Patchen
Kenneth Patchen
Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs

Be a hand, sea,
That her dreams may watch
Thy guidesman touching the green flesh of the world

Be a voice, sky,
That her beauties may be counted
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Charon’s Cosmology by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
With only his dim lantern
To tell him where he is
And every time a mountain
Of fresh corpses to load up

Take them to the other side
Where there are plenty more
I’d say by now he must be confused
As to which side is which
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27
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Credo by Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
Creo que si ... I believe
it will rain
tomorrow ... I believe
the son of a bitch


is going into the river ...
I believe All men are
created equal—By your
leave a leafy
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The Intruder by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
My mother—preferring the strange to the tame:
Dove-note, bone marrow, deer dung,
Frog’s belly distended with finny young,
Leaf-mold wilderness, harebell, toadstool,
Odd, small snakes roving through the leaves,
Metallic beetles rambling over stones: all
Wild and natural!—flashed out her instinctive love, and quick, she
Picked up the fluttering, bleeding bat the cat laid at her feet,
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35
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The Lady of Shalott (1832) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
The yellow-leaved waterlily
The green-sheathed daffodilly
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52
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The Lady of Shalott (1842) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
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42
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The Lake by Daryl Hine
Daryl Hine
dans le simple appareil
D’une beauté qu’on vient d’arracher au sommeil. Smoothed by sleep and ruffled by your dreams
The surface of the little lake
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A Man May Change by Marvin Bell
Marvin Bell
As simply as a self-effacing bar of soap
escaping by indiscernible degrees in the wash water
is how a man may change
and still hour by hour continue in his job.
There in the mirror he appears to be on fire
but here at the office he is dust.
So long as there remains a little moisture in the stains,
he stands easily on the pavement
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35
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Populist by George Oppen
George Oppen
I dreamed myself of their people, I am of their people,
I thought they watched me that I watched them
that they

watched the sun and the clouds for the cities
are no longer mine image images

of existence (or song

of myself?) and the roads for the light
in the rear-view mirror is not
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29
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The Soldier by David Ferry
David Ferry
Saturday afternoon. The barracks is almost empty.
The soldiers are almost all on overnight pass.
There is only me, writing this letter to you,
And one other soldier, down at the end of the room,
And a spider, that hangs by the thread of his guts,
His tenacious and delicate guts, Swift’s spider,
All self-regard, or else all privacy.
The dust drifts in the sunlight around him, as currents
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44
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Summer near the River by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
themes from the Tzu Yeh and the Book of Songs I have carried my pillow to the windowsill
And try to sleep, with my damp arms crossed upon it,
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35
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Who Said It Was Simple by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
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39
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On the Road by John Updike
John Updike
Those dutiful dogtrots down airport corridors
while gnawing at a Dunkin' Donuts cruller,
those hotel rooms where the TV remote
waits by the bed like a suicide pistol,
those hours in the air amid white shirts
whose wearers sleep-read through thick staid thrillers,
those breakfast buffets in prairie Marriotts—
such venues of transit grow dearer than home.
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34
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Wight by Stanley Plumly
Stanley Plumly
In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.

Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre)—which is purer being?

Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.

Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough—one pure, one impure being.
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51
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