Now it occurs to me that some day
our son who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
that was given to me
quite some time ago
by someone I was in love with
quite some time ago
and I’ve never told you this.
There’s keeping and then again
there’s keeping it to oneself
but sometimes I think about her
and what it was like to be in love then
and how it was different
from what it’s like to be in love now
and that some day our son
who is about to be born
will wear this knit cap
and he will not know a thing
and you will not know a thing
and she will not know a thing
about it, the way the yarn
follows the yarn.
Won’t that be something?
In which I write something again that another person named Yeats already wrote, but using only the ten hundred most used words we write with
Turning and turning in the wind that’s going around wider all the time
The flying animal that people use to catch other animals with can’t hear the person who usually tells it what to do.
Things get fucked up; the middle can’t hold;
The world is full of people who think any other people should not be able to tell them what to do,
Nothing is holding back the big body of water that is coming up and is colored a little by blood, and all over the place
The party for people who have never done anything wrong is covered by the water;
The best don’t know what to do or why they should even do anything, while the worst
Are very sure about what they are doing, and care about it a lot.
I’m sure someone is soon going to tell us something very important that we would never know if they didn’t tell us;
I’m sure the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Almost as soon are those words are out
A very, very big picture I saw in a book about the deep meaning of the world
Troubles my sight: somewhere in a place that is covered with fine bits of rock, where little rain falls,
Something with the body of a great cat and the head of a man,
And with a gaze that, just like the sun, doesn’t show any feeling and doesn’t care about people,
Is moving its slow legs, while all about it
The shadows of the pissed off flying animals from that place are moving around in a way that is hard to follow.
Then it gets dark again; but now I know
That twenty hundred years of sleep that was like the kind of sleep a rock has
Were bothered to the point of bad dreams by a baby’s rocking bed.
And what animal that is not finished yet, its hour come round at last,
Is walking in a tired way towards the town where people say the son of God was from, so that it can also be from there?
I thought sure
I heard Walt Whitman singing up America
And all around him I saw America taking shape like columns rising up out of blowing fog
And like a barbarian who finds himself in the ruins of the Acropolis at dawn, having bolted from place to place all night lost in the blowing fog,
And seeing the ghostly columns rising up all about in the false dawn, but the real dawn always came thereafter,
And hearing all about the sourceless prayerful muttering felt his heart rush up in wild surmise
Only to find the Parthenon was a bank building in Youngstown, Ohio,
Only to find that the prayers issued from a series of speakers playing back a commissioned installation piece, recorded chants of a tribe whose language was lost
Only to find that only the fog was real and that he was not even a real barbarian,
Only a stranger,
I awoke then in California
Where my awareness spread out around me like water from a cracked pitcher.
No fog, no America of Walt Whitman,
No dream columns of a dream America,
The glory that was Youngstown, Ohio gone and then forgotten like a dream that is forgotten like fog when it is gone and forgotten,
Allen whom I never met dead, his America where I lived briefly gone,
Walt Whitman silent here, voiceless in California, the redwoods rising up like columns taking shape out of blowing fog,
The only America here my America
Still not finished rising up out of the sea.
by 4 bears
1 was continually arriving from beyond the east
1 was striking like a hammer without any anvil
1 was in love with god who tangled him up like a vine
1 was singing like a river om om om om
by 4 bears
This summer I breathed with you
Past a thousand miles of dead volcanoes
To where the night was a room
Unlit by our lamps.
An owl had outfaced us
Across an empty highway
Flapped into mastered dark
Left us onrushing helplessly.
We stopped just once to argue
About time and commerce.
You had the money but I had the keys
And after that we drove on together.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California
I too saw Walt Whitman buying groceries:
Cabbage and a soup-bone and a little whiskey.
Seventy years later he’d have stayed with us in Paris
Not thinking our lifestyle particularly outré.
A hundred years later he’d have joined
In detesting that son of a bitch McCarthy
After it was fashionable but before it was safe,
And in a few more years he too would have been expelled for crazy
And come along when we hitched to San Francisco
And ended up joining a band that needed a bongo player.
A hundred and fifty years on, there he was on the tv,
Wondering why America still won’t talk about Vietnam.
And shortly thereafter, having stripped naked
And waded in up to his milkwhite thighs
Stood in the warm shallows and boldly declaimed
What, until he spoke, we never knew we had known all along.
I tell you I saw that good, gray poet
Put one cabbage in his basket
And hide another underneath his coat,
Dreaming for all of us of the day
When the commonplace would be the fantastic.
And the golden gods went by running
When the day was ending and the sun.
You may not have noticed, they could have been anyone
Except the way the light
Penetrated the world just then;
Except the way the aspen’s goldcoin leaves
Quivered as if air were water;
Except the way the birds went on singing
Even after night rose up all around;
Except the way the bat cut new sigils into the dark
And the way the stars were bright.
They’re gone now but yes
It was the gods all right.
Tell how you came to drudge in my kitchen
you child of the sheltering sky.
Who were your people?
Where did you get that hair, those blue eyes?
And that we’ll all of us be worms’-meat one day—
is that why you scoff at us?
The wildflowers were abashed
when the fountain burst from frozen ground
and the ice formed complicated branches
as if to demonstrate how much remained to be done.
They have scattered to the far fields,
and now must be counted again.
The roofer practices his trade,
he grows strong off his need for others.
The reseller of goods heard the drone of the chanting,
and the night grew pale.
The conference of geologists has been disbanded:
the earth is strong enough without them.
Un—, un—, un—,
Nay, nay, nay,
Fie, fie, fie,
Stay, stay, stay!
Such were the songs we said and sung
When the world was full and we were young.
Would we had dug in our heels and heeded
The silent center we craved and needed!
But came the sibilant prophets of Yes
And Aye, and Too, and Sure, I guess
And Oh, why not, and What the heck
And never a thought of rue or feck.
Would we had gone to the end of the track
And not beyond, and then turned back!
So much to learn, but we were clever
Why shouldn’t we want to go on forever?
Would we had died when Death called Time
Not borrowed breath for one more rhyme.
The unassuming unicorns united underground
Upthrusting their umbrellas with an ululating sound;
Their umbrage unassuaged, they undertook an upward run
Emerging all unbidden underneath an umber sun.