aflaminghalo: (Default)
November like a train wreck –
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze –
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

– Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.
aflaminghalo: (Default)
To Professor Henryk Elzenberg

Good night Marcus put out the light
and shut the book For overhead
is raised a gold alarm of stars
heaven is talking some foreign tongue
this the barbarian cry of fear
your Latin cannot understand
Terror continuous dark terror
against the fragile human land

begins to beat It’s winning Hear
its roar The unrelenting stream
of elements will drown your prose
until the world’s four walls go down
As for us? — to tremble in the air
blow in the ashes stir the ether
gnaw our fingers seek vain words
drag off the fallen shades behind us

Well Marcus better hang up your peace
give me your hand across the dark
Let it tremble when the blind world beats
on senses five like a failing lyre
Traitors — universe and astronomy
reckoning of stars wisdom of grass
and your greatness too immense
and Marcus my defenseless tears

Zbigniew Herbert, To Marcus Aurelius
aflaminghalo: (Default)
A plague has stricken the moths, the moths are dying,
thier bodies are flakes of bronze on the carpet lying.
Enemies of the delicate everywhere
have breathed a pestilent mist into the air.

Lament for the velvety moths, for the moths were lovely.
Often their tender thoughts, for they thought of me,
eased the neurotic ills that haunt the day.
Now an invisible evil takes them away.

I move through the shadowy rooms, I cannot be still,
I must find where the treacherous killer is concealed.
Feverishly I search and still they fall
as fragile as ashes broken against a wall.

Now that the plague has taken the moths away,
who will be cooler than curtains against the day,
who will come early and softly to ease my lot
as I move through the shadowy rooms with a troubled heart?

Give them, O mother of moths and mother of men,
strength to enter the heavy world again,
for delicate were the moths and badly wanted
here in a world by mammoth figures haunted!

- tennessee williams
aflaminghalo: (Default)
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;

-Aubade, Larkin.

The sense of danger must not disappear;
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the bylaws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendency to disappear.

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.

Much can be said for social savoir-faire,
But to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep:
No one is watching, but you have to leap.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap:
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

— W. H. Auden,
aflaminghalo: (Default)
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
true before you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that took me safely through the wildest storm of all.

- Rilke
aflaminghalo: (Default)
I Sell the Owl and the Pussycat a Boat

I loved that little boat
But I needed the cash
So I slapped a new coat of paint on her
And sold her to a couple of newly weds.
I say "newly weds" but to tell the truth
- I know it's none of my business -
They were buying the boat
To go off in to get married.
A sort of honeymoon before the wedding
If you get me.
Odd pair.
I'm not an envious person but ...
I'd say more money than they knew what to do with.
I think one of them had made a pile
In the music business.
Guitarist and songwriter.
Lerrrrve songs mostly.

They did tie the knot.
Somewhere on the other side of the earth.
People said the ring was huge.
I don't want to sound mean-minded
Huge - but very, very cheap.
People said it looked like
It had been used for something else altogether.
I heard that it was a Turkish fella
Who married them
On a beach.

Fair enough.
To tell the truth -
And I'm not narrow minded -
But we never could figure out
Which was which, if you get me - bride or groom:
The one doing all the lovey dovey singing stuff
Or the one who proposed.
Put it this way:
I never asked
And I was never told.
The only person who might have let on
Was the one who introduced me to them.
A Mr Lear.
He knew
But he chose to keep quiet about it.

I'd be amazed if the paint lasted.
It was a job lot left over
From some work I did
At Celtic Football Club.
You can have the rest if you like.
There!
Now what sort of green would you call that?

--Michael Rosen
aflaminghalo: (Default)
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known---cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all---
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, my own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle---
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me---
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads---you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

1842
-Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I am so addicted to this poem at the moment, you have no idea.
aflaminghalo: (Default)
I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and still I don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm
or a great song.

-Ranier Maria Rilke
aflaminghalo: (autumn leaves)
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

TS Eliot - East Coker

QoTD

Feb. 11th, 2008 04:33 pm
aflaminghalo: (Default)
What is your favourite poem?

I have several, and no work right now.

If you ever see me pootling along, looking particularly blank, it is entirely possible that I am remembering one of these in my head.

Mad Girls Love Song by Silvia Plath. Just about the only Plath poetry I rate. The rest leaves me cold, but this I adore.

The Cockney Amorist by Betjemen. I love the flow of this.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by my poetry boyfriend Coleridge. Intimidating in length, fantastic in just about every way.

Death Shall Have No Dominion - Dylan Thomas. Should be far and away better known, but he only seems to really ever be referenced in terms of "Do Not Go Gently..." and "Under Milkwood." The first stanza of this is just true and absolutely sublime.

And Death shall have no dominion,
the dead men naked they shall be one,
With the man in the wind and the west moon.
When the bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone
they shall have stars at elbow and foot,
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again.
Though lovers be lost, love shall not.
And death shall have no dominion.

Forgive any typos, I'm going from memory there.
aflaminghalo: (autumn leaves)
I long for scenes, where man hath never trod,
A place where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling, and untroubled where I lie,
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

-John Clare
aflaminghalo: (Default)
ONE man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

’Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ’ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he’s worth ’em all;
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight—
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot—and after!

-Rudyard Kipling
aflaminghalo: (petshop)
I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

-- Simon Armitage


I first became aware of this poem when during the poetry GCSE module in High School. For about a year me and my friends could make ourselves howl by reciting the line "O the unrivalled stench of branded skin" in as many mournful and overly-dramatic tones as we could manage. I still love it.
aflaminghalo: (vera)
my doggie don't wear glasses
so they're lying when they say
a dog looks like its owner
aren't they

-John Hegley.
aflaminghalo: (starry dark knight)
Dread Cthulu will one day awaken,
The Elders assure me that's true,
And when he does he will be hungry,
And have to eat all of you.

He lies in a watery silence,
At R'lyeh, his throne and his tomb,
He grins as he dreams of many dark things,
And his Ascension Day dinner menu.

I don't worship the Great One for glory,
Or women, or power or fun,
Please don't think me morbid or mentally disordered,
I'm just looking out for number one.

Cthulu is not one for manners,
He will not say please or thank you
But with fangs he'll descend and with tentacle rend
anything he thinks will make good food.

Terror will spread like a fever,
When Great Cthulu returns to the Earth,
The best you can do is to praise him like I do,
And hope it gets you eaten first.


yes, there is something very wrong with me.
aflaminghalo: (starry dark knight)
Oh when my love, my darling,
You've left me here alone,
I'll walk the streets of London
Which once seemed all our own.

The vast suburban churches
Together we have found:
The ones which smelt of gaslight
The ones in incense drown'd;
I'll use them now for praying in
And not for looking round.

No more the Hackney Empire
Shall find us in its stalls
When on the limelit crooner
The thankful curtain falls,
And soft electric lamplight
Reveals the gilded walls.

I will not go to Finsbury Park
The putting course to see
Nor cross the crowded High Road
To Williamsons' to tea,
For these and all the other things
Were part of you and me.

I love you, oh my darling,
And what I can't make out
Is why since you have left me
I'm somehow still about.

-The Cockney Amorist, John Betjeman
aflaminghalo: (autumn leaves)
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

-raymond carver
aflaminghalo: (Default)
Variations on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center.
I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

- Margaret Atwood.
aflaminghalo: (Default)
He loved her and she loved him
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment's brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap

His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
Her vows put his eyes in formalin
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall

Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

In the morning they wore each other's face
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