Monday, April 24, 2006

Poetry - Last of the make up days

Last of the make up bonus days in celebration of National Poetry Month. Tomorrow, I'll go back to one per day.

Margaret Atwood – In The Secular Night

In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It's two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.

Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it's baby lima beans.
It's necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You'd be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.

There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn't now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone's been run over.
The century grinds on.

Allen Ginsberg - War Profit Litany

To Ezra Pound

These are the names of the companies that have made
money from this war
nineteenhundredsixtyeight Annodomini fourthousand
eighty Hebraic
These are the Corporations who have profited by merchan-
dising skinburning phosphorous or shells fragmented
to thousands of fleshpiercing needles
and here listed money millions gained by each combine for
and here are gains numbered, index'd swelling a decade, set
in order,
here named the Fathers in office in these industries, tele-
phones directing finance,
names of directors, makers of fates, and the names of the
stockholders of these destined Aggregates,
and here are the names of their ambassadors to the Capital,
representatives to legislature, those who sit drinking
in hotel lobbies to persuade,
and separate listed, those who drop Amphetamine with
military, gossip, argue, and persuade
suggesting policy naming language proposing strategy, this
done for fee as ambassadors to Pentagon, consul-
tants to military, paid by their industry:
and these are the names of the generals & captains mili-
tary, who know thus work for war goods manufactur-
and above these, listed, the names of the banks, combines,
investment trusts that control these industries:
and these are the names of the newspapers owned by these
and these are the names of the airstations owned by these
and these are the numbers of thousands of citizens em-
ployed by these businesses named;
and the beginning of this accounting is 1958 and the end
1968, that static be contained in orderly mind,
coherent and definite,
and the first form of this litany begun first day December
1967 furthers this poem of these States.

December 1, 1967

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