To Witness the Public Ceremonies of the Night

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(a found poem, from the works of Washington Matthews)

It has lasted eight days before
the four singers,
after long and tedious instruction by the shaman,
come out
to sing this song.

Five hundred people are, perhaps, assembled
to witness the public ceremonies
of the night;

some have come
from the most distant parts
of the wide
Navajo
territory; all are prepared
to hold their vigil until dawn.

A score or more of critics are in the audience
who know the song by heart and are
alert to discover errors.
It is a long song,
and consists almost exclusively of
meaningless
or archaic
vocables
which convey no idea to
the mind of the singer. Yet not
one
syllable
may be forgotten
ormisplaced.
Ifthe slightest error is made,
it is at once proclaimed by the assembled critics,

the fruitless ceremony comes to an end, and

the five hundred disappointed spectators
disperse.
But
fortunatelythey are not as particular with all their songs
as they are
with this.

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When a Baby Meets a Baby

Duo penotti fighting over a ballWhen a baby meets a baby
Coming through the rye
Says the baby to the baby
I must poke you in the eye.

When a baby meets a  baby
Walking through the wheat
Says the baby to the baby
I must tread upon your feet

When a baby meets a baby
And the baby says Hello
They may play until the baby says
It’s time for you to go.

When a baby meets a baby
Coming through the corn
Says the baby to the baby
You will wish you weren’t born

When a baby meets a baby
And the babies start to play
They will play until the baby says
It’s time to go away.

So when a baby meets a baby
Coming through the rye
Says the baby to the baby
Better pass the baby by.

 

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Apologia for Slipping Off the Wobbly Pivot of Language While Attempting to Capture Something Vaguely yet Acutely Felt

Charles Wright bird

Q: What do you see as the future of poetry?
A: Oblivion.

Ever since I first noticed “my blood
setting out on its long journey beyond the skin”
I have been pondering that line.
I wrote it, sure, but

What the hell does it mean, you know?
Must be part of the dark speech of silence,
I guess.
But it’s here, and so are we.

So I keep rephrasing the question
Endlessly,
Hoping the answer might somehow change,
Becoming accessible.

Or at least that, you know,
It might make sense
One day.

 

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Flim and Flam

FF-Fred-George-C1Flim was thin as a chicken wing
Flam was fat as a toad.
Flim walked east and Flam walked north
They met along the western road.

Flam had a bag of noodles;
He spilt them on the ground.
Flim just smiled and shook his hand
And gave his head a friendly pound.

And both of them were in the way
And neither stepped aside
So no one else could come along
To offer either one a ride.

Flam was bowing from the waist
Clicking his heels together
Flim was staring at the sky
Wondering about the weather.

And both of them were in the way
And both were at a loss.
And neither one would give an inch
So both of them were cross.

Flam was standing in the path
And fussing with his hat
Flim was sitting diligently
Where the ground was nice and flat.

And no one cared to solve the mess
And no one cared to stay
And what with one thing and another
That is how things are today.

 
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Things Have Been Thought About Enough, Already

Che Wright

In one of his first public statements after learning of his new post, Charles Wright said that, as laureate, “I’ll probably stay here at home and think about things… I will not be an activist laureate, I don’t think…I have no program.” 

I’ve seen you out there by the barn,
surreptitiously tucking away your meditative, image-driven lyrics
Between hard covers,
Thinking that absolves you, that it’s enough.

Well, no, goddammit.
I mean, really, I don’t have to explain it to you, do I?
God damn it, get out there and sell us some poetry!
Are you with us, or against us?

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A Dedication, Whatever; Followed by Breakfast

“I’m very honored and flattered to be picked, but also somewhat confused,” Mr. Wright said in a softly accented voice, after apologizing for the sound of buzz saws cutting trees in the yard that he has described in poem after poem.

“I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” he continued. “But as soon as I find out, I’ll do it.”

Wright-at-RaesSince that first phone call
I’ve been somewhat confused, sure. But finally
things are back to normal, I think.

Anyway, I awoke this morning
then didn’t bother to get up.
The sun was shining anyway,
like always. So, I thought… after a while…
why bother
getting up?
I just lay there for a while,

thinking about nothing in particular,
and not wondering why things weren’t really going anywhere.
I don’t care about progress, anyway,
it doesn’t interest me. Never has,
even though I’ve somehow lived to see my seventies anyway. You see?
You don’t really have to try.

And really, why get up, after all is said and done?
Well, said, anyway.

Although, one gets hungry
eventually.

And the people at school aren’t really waiting for me to show up.
They already know where I am,
or suspect that I am
probably just lying in bed, or dead.

 

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The Natural History of the Kraken, part 1

Ship and Kraken (detail)

I.

Polytentacular, it grips
And rends to flinders passing ships.

II.

By covering itself with sand,
The Kraken poses as a Land—

And rises with an awful roar
When hapless sailors come ashore,

Till falling back, it drags them down
To whirl and spin, and fail, and drown.

III.

A dozen years have come and gone
Since when I held the watch at dawn

And through the water clear as air
Saw my own shadow riding there;

And stared into the glassy sea
As jelly eyes stared up at me.

 

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Alphabet, Schmalphabet (L, l)

Lily and Lamia LakeLily Lake
Loved her snake.

Leroy Lay
Stole it away.

Lucas Lops
Called the cops.

Laura Leaf
Chased the thief.

Lenny Loun
Knocked him down.

Lamia Lake
(That was the snake)
Swallowed him whole.

That’s all.

 

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A Following Song

Kodak VS by Kevin DooleyDown by the hill, or lower down,
The larks and lizards built a town.
They sang for fun and lay in the sun
And life was easy.

Seasons came, and came, and came,
And some were different, some the same;
The flowers grew, and blossomed, and blew,
And life was easy.

But a lark grows bold to stretch its wing
While a lizard sleeps and dreams of spring.
So the larks forgot – what the lizards did not –
That life is easy.

Then they went their ways, no one knew why,
Some to the desert and some to the sky,
With the turning spheres and the passing years,
Like life, so easy.
 
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The Things That Came (Monster Slayer part 3)

Sego Canyon PetroglyphsOut of some place they came
Out of any place they came
And everywhere out of place
Making the whole world out of place:

Kicking monster, old-age monster,
Yaitse, eye monster, rolling monster.
And that’s not all, there are
Monsters nobody ever saw.

Old man said:

Pretty soon
They gonna monster us all up –
Pretty soon, mind,
Be no more people.

Newspaper Rock 3
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