Swimming

S
Jail Poems by Bob Kaufman
Bob Kaufman
1
I am sitting in a cell with a view of evil parallels,
Waiting thunder to splinter me into a thousand me's.
It is not enough to be in one cage with one self;
I want to sit opposite every prisoner in every hole.
Doors roll and bang, every slam a finality, bang!
The junkie disappeared into a red noise, stoning out his hell.
The odored wino congratulates himself on not smoking,
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These New York City Pigeons by Jayne Cortez
Jayne Cortez
These New York City Pigeons
cooing in the air shaft
are responsible for me
stubbing my toe
spraining my ankle
and getting sick on ammonia fumes

That pigeon roosting on the clothesline
stole my nightgown
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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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Winter Flowers by Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss
In fresh snow that fell on old snow
I see wild roses in bloom, springtime,
an orchard of apple and peach trees in bloom,
lovers of different preferences
walking naked in new snow, not shivering,
no illusion, no delusion, no bluebells.
Why should I live by reality that murders?
I wear a coat of hope and desire.
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Streets in Shanghai by Tomas Tranströmer
Tomas Tranströmer
1
The white butterfly in the park is being read by many.
I love that cabbage-moth as if it were a fluttering corner of truth itself!

At dawn the running crowds set our quiet planet in motion.
Then the park fills with people. To each one, eight faces polished like jade, for all
situations, to avoid making mistakes.
To each one, there's also the invisible face reflecting "something you don't talk about."
Something that appears in tired moments and is as rank as a gulp of viper schnapps with its long scaly aftertaste.
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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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Lament of the Silent Sisters by Kofi Awoonor
Kofi Awoonor
For Chris Okigbo, the well-known poet, killed in 1967 in the Nigerian civil war. That night he came home, he came unto me
at the cold hour of the night
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Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
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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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Still Burning by Gerald Stern
Gerald Stern
Me trying to understand say whence
say whither, say what, say me with a pencil walking,
say reading the dictionary, say learning medieval
Latin, reading Spengler, reading Whitehead,
William James I loved him, swimming breaststroke
and thinking for an hour, how did I get here?
Or thinking in line, say the 69 streetcar
or 68 or 67 Swissvale,
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To an Ungentle Critic by Robert Graves
Robert Graves
The great sun sinks behind the town
Through a red mist of Volnay wine . . . .
But what’s the use of setting down
That glorious blaze behind the town?
You’ll only skip the page, you’ll look
For newer pictures in this book;
You’ve read of sunsets rich as mine.

A fresh wind fills the evening air
With horrid crying of night birds . . . .
But what reads new or curious there
When cold winds fly across the air?
You’ll only frown; you’ll turn the page,
But find no glimpse of your ‘New Age
Of Poetry’ in my worn-out words.
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The Broken Fountain by Amy Lowell
Amy Lowell
Oblong, its jutted ends rounding into circles,
The old sunken basin lies with its flat, marble lip
An inch below the terrace tiles.
Over the stagnant water
Slide reflections:
The blue-green of coned yews;
The purple and red of trailing fuchsias
Dripping out of marble urns;
Bright squares of sky
Ribbed by the wake of a swimming beetle.
Through the blue-bronze water
Wavers the pale uncertainty of a shadow.
An arm flashes through the reflections,
A breast is outlined with leaves.
Outstretched in the quiet water
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Haymaking by Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas
Aftear night’s thunder far away had rolled
The fiery day had a kernel sweet of cold,
And in the perfect blue the clouds uncurled,
Like the first gods before they made the world
And misery, swimming the stormless sea
In beauty and in divine gaiety.
The smooth white empty road was lightly strewn
With leaves—the holly’s Autumn falls in June—
And fir cones standing stiff up in the heat.
The mill-foot water tumbled white and lit
With tossing crystals, happier than any crowd
Of children pouring out of school aloud.
And in the little thickets where a sleeper
For ever might lie lost, the nettle-creeper
And garden warbler sang unceasingly;
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Kumina by Kamau Brathwaite
Kamau Brathwaite
for DreamChad on the death of her sun Mark - mark this word mark this place + tyme - at Papine Kingston Jamaica - age 29
midnight 28/29 April 2001-1002-0210-0120-0020-0000
rev 29 feb 04

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The Presence by Odysseus Elytis
Odysseus Elytis
MARIA NEFELE:
I walk in thorns in the dark
of what’s to happen and what has
with my only weapon my only defense
my nails purple like cyclamens.

ANTIPHONIST:
I saw her everywhere. Holding a glass and staring in space. Lying down
listening to records. Walking the streets in wide trousers and an old
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Casualty by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Highlight Actions Enable or disable annotations
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from The Emigrants: A Poem by Charlotte Smith
Charlotte Smith
[Disillusion with the French Revolution] So many years have passed,
Since, on my native hills, I learned to gaze
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‘Thrush’ by George Seferis
George Seferis
I

The house near the sea

The houses I had they took away from me. The times
happened to be unpropitious: war, destruction, exile;
sometimes the hunter hits the migratory birds,
sometimes he doesn’t hit them. Hunting
was good in my time, many felt the pellet;
the rest circle aimlessly or go mad in the shelters.
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About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter by Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski
he lives in a house with a swimming pool
and says the job is
killing him.
he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to
get rid of
him. his novels keep coming
back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams
“go to New York and pump the hands of the
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Affairs by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
Dawn on the black hill, and up on the roof
cats drowsing. Last night, there was a boy
who fell off this roof, breaking his back.
The wind riffles the cool leaves of the trees.
The red clouds above are warm and move slowly.
A stray dog appears in the alley below, sniffing
the boy on the cobblestones, and a raw wail
rises up among chimneys: someone’s unhappy.
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Belle Isle, 1949 by Philip Levine
Philip Levine
We stripped in the first warm spring night
and ran down into the Detroit River
to baptize ourselves in the brine
of car parts, dead fish, stolen bicycles,
melted snow. I remember going under
hand in hand with a Polish highschool girl
I'd never seen before, and the cries
our breath made caught at the same time
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Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert
Jack Gilbert
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
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Five Visions of Captain Cook by Kenneth Slessor
Kenneth Slessor
I

Cook was a captain of the Admiralty
When sea-captains had the evil eye,
Or should have, what with beating krakens off
And casting nativities of ships;
Cook was a captain of the powder-days
When captains, you might have said, if you had been
Fixed by their glittering stare, half-down the side,
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Fixed Ideas by Kenneth Slessor
Kenneth Slessor
Ranks of electroplated cubes, dwindling to glitters,
Like the other pasture, the trigonometry of marble,
Death’s candy-bed. Stone caked on stone,
Dry pyramids and racks of iron balls.
Life is observed, a precipitate of pellets,
Or grammarians freeze it into spar,
Their rhomboids, as for instance, the finest crystal
Fixing a snowfall under glass. Gods are laid out
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in the Catskills again by Dick Lourie
Dick Lourie
my wife’s bare footprints on these rocks after
she’s been swimming where the river has dug
a small pool by the road outside Bearsville

it looks like rain no it’s raining should I
follow these delicate marks to find her
no she’s just ten feet away and she turns

back green bathing suit thin legs orange and
black towel it stops raining her footprints
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The Indoors is Endless by Tomas Tranströmer
Tomas Tranströmer
It’s spring in 1827, Beethoven
hoists his death-mask and sails off.

The grindstones are turning in Europe’s windmills.
The wild geese are flying northwards.

Here is the north, here is Stockholm
swimming palaces and hovels.

The logs in the royal fireplace
collapse from Attention to At Ease.
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Maximus, to Gloucester: Letter 2 by Charles Olson
Charles Olson
. . . . . tell you? ha! who
can tell another how
to manage the swimming?

he was right: people

don’t change. They only stand more
revealed. I,
likewise

1
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Mythistorema by George Seferis
George Seferis
1

The angel —
three years we waited for him, attention riveted,
closely scanning
the pines the shore the stars.
One with the blade of the plough or the ship’s keel
we were searching to find once more the first seed
so that the age-old drama could begin again.
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San Diego and Matisse by Clarence Major
Clarence Major
1. INSIDE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A TREE

Beautiful women in smoky blue culottes
lying around on fluffy pink pillows
beneath windows onto charming views,
sea views, seasonal leaves and trees.
Inside is outside and outside inside.
Smell of saltwater swimming in the room.


2. OUTSIDE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A ROCKING CHAIR
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from The Sleepers by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs,
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on the rocks.

What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? will you kill him in the prime of his middle-age?

Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, bang’d, bruis’d, he holds out while his strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood, they bear him away, they roll him, swing him, turn him,
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is continually bruis’d on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.

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A Slow Fuse by Theodore Weiss
Theodore Weiss
Some seventy years later
your father, sitting at your table
over wine he savors, last rays mellow-
ing in it, recalls his favorite aunt,
Rifka.
“Just naming her shoots
rifles off again inside the morning
square, rifles she aimed into the air
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To the Returned Girls by Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams
Will you read my little pome,
O you girls returnèd home
From a summertime of sport
At the Jolliest Resort,
From a Heated Term of joys
Far from urban dust and noise?

You I speak to in this rhyme,
You have had a Glorious Time
Swimming, golfing, bridging, dancing,
Riding, tennising, romancing,
On the springboard, on the raft—
You’ve been often photographed.

At the place you have forsaken,
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Toward an Organic Philosophy by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth
SPRING, COAST RANGE

The glow of my campfire is dark red and flameless,
The circle of white ash widens around it.
I get up and walk off in the moonlight and each time
I look back the red is deeper and the light smaller.
Scorpio rises late with Mars caught in his claw;
The moon has come before them, the light
Like a choir of children in the young laurel trees.
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The Rape of Europa by Ovid
Ovid
From "Metamorphoses," Book II, 846-875 Majesty is incompatible truly with love; they cohabit
Nowhere together. The father and chief of the gods, whose right hand is
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At the Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic by Gail Mazur
Gail Mazur
One of those appointments you postpone
until anxiety propels you to the phone,
then have to wait too long for, to take
an inconvenient time . . . Late in the day,
an old man and I watch the minute hand

on the waiting room wall. I’ve papers
to grade, but he wants someone to talk to,
and his attendant’s rude, so he turns
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The Black-Faced Sheep by Donald Hall
Donald Hall
Ruminant pillows! Gregarious soft boulders!

If one of you found a gap in a stone wall,
the rest of you—rams, ewes, bucks, wethers, lambs;
mothers and daughters, old grandfather-father,
cousins and aunts, small bleating sons—
followed onward, stupid
as sheep, wherever
your leader’s sheep-brain wandered to.
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Burning Island by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder
O Wave Godwho broke through me today
Sea Bream
massive pink and silver
cool swimming down with me watching
staying away from the spear

Volcano belly Keeper who lifted this island
for our own beaded bodies adornment
and sprinkles us all with his laugh—
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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
1
Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

2
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
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Dejection: An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,
With the old Moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my Master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.
(Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence)
I
Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
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Farewell to Bath by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
To all you ladies now at Bath,
And eke, ye beaux, to you,
With aching heart, and wat'ry eyes,
I bid my last adieu.

Farewell ye nymphs, who waters sip
Hot reeking from the pumps,
While music lends her friendly aid,
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The Father of My Country by Diane Wakoski
Diane Wakoski
All fathers in Western civilization must have
a military origin. The
ruler,
governor,
yes,
he is
was the
general at one time or other.
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Frost at Midnight by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
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I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
1
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

2
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

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Oenone by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea.
Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
Stands up and takes the morning: but in front
The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
The crown of Troas.

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Prothalamion by Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
CALM was the day, and through the trembling air
Sweet breathing Zephyrus did softly play,
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay
Hot Titan's beams, which then did glister fair;
When I whose sullen care,
Through discontent of my long fruitless stay
In prince's court, and expectation vain
Of idle hopes, which still do fly away
Like empty shadows, did afflict my brain,
Walked forth to ease my pain
Along the shore of silver streaming Thames,
Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems,
Was painted all with variable flowers,
And all the meads adorned with dainty gems,
Fit to deck maidens' bowers,
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This Lime-tree Bower my Prison by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London] Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
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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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