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Poems


e.e cummings

i like my body when it with your

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which I will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over patting flesh .... And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly I like the thrill
of under me you so quite new.
 

Rumi

Like This


If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this?

If anyone wants to know what 'spirit' is,
or what 'God's fragrance' means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
 
Like this.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon.
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Like this?
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don't try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks you what it means
to 'die for love,' point
here.
If someone asks you how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
This tall.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn't believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.
When lovers moan,
they're telling our story.
Like this.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like this.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.
How did Joseph's scent come to Jacob?
Huuuuu.
How did Jacob's sight return?
Huuuu.
A little wind cleanses the eyes.
Like this.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he'll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
Like this.
 
 

Simon Armitage

Meanwhile, somewhere in the state of Colorado

Meanwhile, somewhere in the state of Colorado, armed to the teeth
with thousands of flowers,
two boys entered the front door of their own high school
and for almost two hours
gave floral tributes to fellow students and members of staff
beginning with red roses
strewn amongst unsuspecting pupils during their lunch hour,
followed by posies
of peace lilies and wild orchids. Most thought the whole show
was one elaborate hoax
using silk replicas of the real thing, plastic imitations,
exquisite practical jokes,
but the flowers were no more fake than you or I,
and were handed out
as compliments returned, favours repaid, in good faith,
straight from the heart.
No would not be taken for an answer. Therefore a daffodil
was tucked behind the ear
of a boy in a baseball hat, and marigolds and peonies
threaded through the hair
of those caught on the stairs or spotted along corridors
until every pupil
who looked up from behind a desk could expect to be met
with at least a petal
or a dusting of pollen, if not an entire daisy chain,
or the colour-burst
of a dozen foxgloves, flowering for all their worth,
on a buttonhole to the breast.
Upstairs in the school library, individuals were singled out for special attention:
some were showered with blossom, others wore their blooms
like brooches or medallions;
even those who turned their backs or refused point-blank
to accept such honours
were decorated with buds, unseasonable fruits and rosettes
the same as the others.
By which time a crowd had gathered outside the school,
drawn through surburbia
by the rumour of flowers in full bloom, drawn through the air
like butterflies to buddleia,
like honey bees to honeysuckle, like hummingbirds
dipping their tongues in,
some to soak up such over exuberance of thought, others
to savour the goings-on.
Finally, overcome by their own munificence or hay fever,
the flower boys pinned
the last blooms on themselves, somewhat selfishly perhaps,
but had also planned
further surprises for those who swept through the aftermath
of broom and buttercup:
garlands and bouquets were planted in lockers and cupboards,
timed to erupt
like the first day of spring into the arms of those
who, during the first bout,
either by fate or chance had somehow been overlooked
and missed out.
Experts are now trying to say how two apparently quiet kids
from an apple-pie town
could get their hands on a veritable rain-forest of plants
and bring down
a whole botanical digest of one species or another onto the
heads of classmates and teachers,
and where such fascination began, and why it should lead
to such an outpouring of nature.
And even though many believe that flowers should be kept
in expert hands
only, or left to specialists in the field such as florists,
the law of the land
dictates that God, guts and gardening made the country
what it is today
and for as long as the flower industry can see to it
things are staying that way.
What they reckon is this: deny a person the right to carry
flowers of his own
and he's liable to wind up on the business end of a flower
someone else has grown.
As for the two boys, it's back to the same old debate:
is it something in the mind
that grows from birth, like a seed, or is it society
makes a person that kind? 
 

Nigel Forde

Rebecca Dancing

You unfold, oh, soft as snow,
A slow geometry like light
Inside a shell.

You move without adverbs, your every noun
Hull down on horizons of your own creation
Where nothing is, but all’s becoming.

I need help in this new universe
You’ve made; where hairsbreadth
Of finger tilts
And all the weighty freight of physics
Turns to miracle.

You move in the thought of colour.
Flecks of gold
Spin from your shoulders
And greens lean into darkness
As you turn. I have seen you kick
Vermilions from the air which you inhabit;
I have seen your special way with silver.

Then, hey adagio! Your body
Vanishes into what it is: alliteration,
Flesh made word;
Into random eternities which poise
For a second every second. You unmake me,
Like music.

I do the best I can,
Hopeless, despairing surrealist,
I run outside into real space, real time,
And build you a sunman.


Dylan Thomas 

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night, 

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Joy Gresham

Snow in Madrid

Softly so casual
Lovely so light
So light
The cruel sky lets fall something
One does not fight
Men, before perishing, see with unwounded eye for once
A gentle thing fall from the sky.
 

Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.
 

Sheenah Pugh

Sometimes

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
 

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
 

Emily Dickenson

Heart, We Will Forget Him

Heart, we will forget him!
You and I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me,
That I may straight begin!
Haste! lest while you're lagging
I may remember him!
 

Roger McGough

(Please don't email me to tell me about the typos. :-)  Roger McGough wrote it like this. x i )

At lunchtime - A story of love.


When the busstopped suddenly to avoid
damaging a mother and child in the road, the
younglady in the greenhat sitting opposite
was thrown across me,
and not being one to miss an opportunity
I started to makelove
with all my body.
 
At first, she resisted saying that it
was tooearly in the morning and too soon
after breakfast and that anyway she found
me repulsive. But when I explained that
this being a nuclearage,the world was going
to end at lunchtime, she tookoff her
greenhat, put her bus ticket into her pocket
and joined in the exercise.
 
The buspeople, and therewere many of
them, were shockedandsurprised, and amused-
andannoyed, but when word got around
that the world was coming to an end at lunchtime,
they put their pride in their pockets
with their bustickets and madelove one with the other.
And even the busconductor, feeling left
out climbed into the cab and struck up
some sort of relationship with the driver.
 
Thatnight, on the bus coming home,
wewere all alittle embarrassed, especially me
and the younglady in the green hat, and we
all started to say in different ways howhasty
and foolish we had been. Butthen, always
having been a bitofalad, i stood up and
said it was a pity that the world didn't nearly
end every lunchtime, and that we could always
pretend. And then it happened . . .
 
Quick asa flash we all changed partners,
and soon the bus was aquiver with white
mothball bodies doing naughty things.
 
And the next day
and everyday
In everybus
In everystreet
In everytown
In everycountry
 
People pretended that the world was coming
to an end at lunchtime. It still hasn't.
Although in a way it has.
 

Vikram Seth

My love, I love your breasts.

My love, I love your breasts, I love your nose
I love your accent and I love your toes
I am your slave. One word and I obey.
But please don't slurp your coffee in that way.
 

Isabel Losada

(Inspired, I realised, by a similar sentiment expressed by Adrian Mitchell)

Bad Practice

When love has fled,
The weather's grim
And life seems truly vile,
I close my eyes and meditate
On nothing.
And your smile.


Talk to me about Love

Talk to me about love.

Talk to me about love. Oh, please, talk to me about love.
Tell me there is more to love than narcissism
That we are capable of loving another person and don’t just search for reflections of ourselves.

Talk to me about love. Oh, please talk to me about love.
Tell me that it’s not just co-dependency
People living together because they are unable to live alone.
Please tell me there is more to love than that.

Talk to me about love. Oh, please talk to me about love.
Tell me it’s not just attachment, projection, dysfunction
That we don’t love correctly because, as children, our needs were not correctly met. I don’t believe it.
So please talk to me about love.

Tell me that the love I have is not a sickness that needs curing, fixing, medicating or extracting.
Tell me what love is. Talk to me about love.

Don’t talk to me about addiction. Don’t enumerate the symptoms of obsession. Please stop avoiding my request.
Don’t pray. Don’t meditate. Don’t get angry about politics.
Don’t pretend you haven’t heard me.
Please talk to me about love.

Don’t talk about egotism, socio-pathology, psychoses, neuroses, ghosting, emotional bribery, jealousy, hatred, indifference or mutual toleration.
Talk to me about love.
Don’t tell me why relationships fail; that men are on the wrong end of the autistic spectrum that women are unstable, needy, over emotional or mad.
Talk to me about love. Please, talk to me about love.

Don’t tell me it’s a myth. Don’t tell me it’s a ‘story.’ Don’t tell me I’m deluded just to ask the question.
Don’t change the subject. Don’t begin with negatives. Don’t define love by what it isn’t.
Just talk to me about love.
Please. Just talk to me about love.

For once, don’t laugh, or joke or shrug and turn away.
Don’t say, ‘I don’t know.’ Or pretend it’s not important.
Don’t check your messages, don’t read, don’t jog, don’t cook, don’t clean, don’t work, don’t study, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t take drugs, don’t sleep. Don’t walk – don’t even weep. Just sit. Please. And talk to me about love.

Please talk to me about love.
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