Wallace Stevens – The Snow Man

 One must have a mind of winter
 To regard the frost and the boughs
 Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

(Wallace Stevens,  Reading, Pennsylvania, 2 October 1879 – 2 August 1955)


James Tate – The Wrong Way Home

All night a door floated down the river.

It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure

from its former life, like the time the lovers

leaned against it kissing for hours

and whispering those famous words.

Later, there were harsh words and a shoe

was thrown and the door was slammed.

Comings and goings by the thousands,

the early mornings and late nights, years, years.

O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle.

The door was an island that swayed in its sleep.

The moon turned the doorknob just slightly,

burned its fingers and ran,

and still the door said nothing and slept.

At least that's what they like to say,

the little fishes and so on.

Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.

(James Tate, Kansas City, Missouri, 8 December 1943)

Naomi Shihab Nye – Streets

A man leaves the world
and the streets he lived on
grow a little shorter.
One more window dark
in this city, the figs on his branches
will soften for birds.
If we stand quietly enough evenings
there grows a whole company of us
standing quietly together.
overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees
and the sky which sews and sews, tirelessly sewing,
drops her purple hem.
Each thing in its time, in its place,
it would be nice to think the same about people.
Some people do. They sleep completely,
waking refreshed. Others live in two worlds,
the lost and remembered.
They sleep twice, once for the one who is gone,
once for themselves. They dream thickly,
dream double, they wake from a dream
calling out names, and then they answer

(Naomi Shihab Nye, 12 March 1952, St Louis, Missouri)


Charles Simic – That little something

The likelihood of ever finding is small.
It's like being accosted by a woman
And asked to help her look for a pearl
She lost right here in the street.
She could be making it all up,
Even her tears, you say to yourself
As you search under your feet,
Thinking, not in a million years...
It's one of those summer afternoons
When one needs a good excuse
To step out of a cool shade.
In the meantime, what ever became of her?
And why, years later, do you still,
Off and on, cast your eyes to the ground
As you hurry to some appointment
Where you are now certain to arrive late.

(Charles Simic, 9 May 1938 Belgrade)

Walt Whitman – A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,

Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding

It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,

Ever reeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,

Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres

to connect them,

Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile

anchor hold,

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

(Walt Whitman, West Hills, New York 31 May 1819 – Camden, New Jersey 26 March 1892)

Wallace Stevens – Infanta Marina

Her terrace was the sand
And the palms and the twilight.

She made of the motions of her wrist
The grandiose gestures
Of her thought.

The rumpling of the plumes
Of this creature of the evening
Came to be sleights of sails
Over the sea.

And thus she roamed
In the roamings of her fan,
Partaking of the sea,
And of the evening,
As they flowed around
And uttered their subsiding sound.

(Wallace Stevens,  Reading, Pennsylvania, 2 October 1879 – 2 August 1955)

Charles Simic – Talk Radio

"I was lucky to have a Bible with me.
When the space aliens abducted me…".

America, I shouted at the radio,
Even at 2 A.M. you are a loony bin!

No, I take it back!
You are a stone angel in the cemetery

Listening to the geese in the sky
Your eyes blinded by the snow.

(Charles Simic, Belgrade, 9 May 1938)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – From a Coney Island of the Mind – Section 20

The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum

Outside the
leaves were falling as they died

A wind had
blown away the sun

A girl ran
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room

Outside the
leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!

(Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Yonkers, New York, 24 March 1919)

Walt Whitman – Two Rivulets

Two Rivulets side by side, 
Two blended, parallel, strolling tides,
Companions, travelers, gossiping as they journey.

For the Eternal Ocean bound,
These ripples, passing surges, streams of Death and Life,
Object and Subject hurrying, whirling by,
The Real and Ideal,

Alternate ebb and flow the Days and Nights,
(Strands of a Trio twining, Present, Future, Past.)

In You, whoe’er you are, my book perusing,
In I myself—in all the World—these ripples flow,
All, all, toward the mystic Ocean tending.

(O yearnful waves! the kisses of your lips!
Your breast so broad, with open arms, O firm, expanded shore!)

(Walt Whitman, West Hills, New York 31 May 1819 - Camden, New Jersey 26 March 1892