cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (death is the only way)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Spring." Again and again, darkly; the year circles and returns.


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (we came out of the desert together)
When my prodigal child comes back

When my prodigal child comes back
I know he'll be hungry.
Let him eat--
Let him eat all he wants
From the fields and groves.

He'll be thirsty--let him drink
From the lake and the well
Til he's sated. He'll be tired;
Give him a good room to rest in,
As long as he needs.

He's my child. Give him all the things he needs.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana in the field)
Conrad Aiken, "Morning Song From 'Senlin'"


It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie.

Vine-leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.

It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more.
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight
Crash on a white sand shore.
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair:
How small and white my face!—
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air
And bathes in a flame of space.
There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea...
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me....

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
Should I not pause in the light to remember God?
Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable,
He is immense and lonely as a cloud.
I will dedicate this moment before my mirror
To him alone, for him I will comb my hair.
Accept these humble offerings, clouds of silence!
I will think of you as I descend the stair.

Vine-leaves tap my window,
The snail-track shines on the stones;
Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree
Repeating two clear tones.

It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence,
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep.
The walls are about me still as in the evening,
I am the same, and the same name still I keep.
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, and tie my tie.

There are horses neighing on far-off hills
Tossing their long white manes,
And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk,
Their shoulders black with rains....
It is morning, I stand by the mirror
And surprise my soul once more;
The blue air rushes above my ceiling,
There are suns beneath my floor....

...It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness
And depart on the winds of space for I know not where;
My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket,
And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair.
There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven,
And a god among the stars; and I will go
Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak
And humming a tune I know....

Vine-leaves tap at the window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three dear tones.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (I won't back down)
I can stop the rock

I
can stop the rock,
she says.
I am the master of earth and of fire.
I am the volcano and the lava and the igneous rock
and the artifacts of fire.

I
can stop the rock.

I can make it fly through air;
I can make it run through, and
Rise above the water.

I can stop the rock.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (it's roses not blood)
Conrad Aiken, "The Vampire"

She rose among us where we lay.
She wept, we put our work away.
She chilled our laughter, stilled our play;
And spread a silence there.
And darkness shot across the sky,
And once, and twice, we heard her cry;
And saw her lift white hands on high
And toss her troubled hair.

What shape was this who came to us,
With basilisk eyes so ominous,
With mouth so sweet, so poisonous,
And tortured hands so pale?
We saw her wavering to and fro,
Through dark and wind we saw her go;
Yet what her name was did not know;
And felt our spirits fail.

We tried to turn away; but still
Above we heard her sorrow thrill;
And those that slept, they dreamed of ill
And dreadful things:
Of skies grown red with rending flames
And shuddering hills that cracked their frames;
Of twilights foul with wings;

And skeletons dancing to a tune;
And cries of children stifled soon;
And over all a blood-red moon
A dull and nightmare size.
They woke, and sought to go their ways,
Yet everywhere they met her gaze,
Her fixed and burning eyes.

Who are you now, —we cried to her—
Spirit so strange, so sinister?
We felt dead winds above us stir;
And in the darkness heard
A voice fall, singing, cloying sweet,
Heavily dropping, though that heat,
Heavy as honeyed pulses beat,
Slow word by anguished word.

And through the night strange music went
With voice and cry so darkly blent
We could not fathom what they meant;
Save only that they seemed
To thin the blood along our veins,
Foretelling vile, delirious pains,
And clouds divulging blood-red rains
Upon a hill undreamed.

And this we heard: "Who dies for me,
He shall possess me secretly,
My terrible beauty he shall see,
And slake my body's flame.
But who denies me cursed shall be,
And slain, and buried loathsomely,
And slimed upon with shame."

And darkness fell. And like a sea
Of stumbling deaths we followed, we
Who dared not stay behind.
There all night long beneath a cloud
We rose and fell, we struck and bowed,
We were the ploughman and the ploughed,
Our eyes were red and blind.

And some, they said, had touched her side,
Before she fled us there;
And some had taken her to bride;
And some lain down for her and died;
Who had not touched her hair,
Ran to and fro and cursed and cried
And sought her everywhere.

"Her eyes have feasted on the dead,
And small and shapely is her head,
And dark and small her mouth," they said,
"And beautiful to kiss;
Her mouth is sinister and red
As blood in moonlight is."

Then poets forgot their jeweled words
And cut the sky with glittering swords;
And innocent souls turned carrion birds
To perch upon the dead.
Sweet daisy fields were drenched with death,
The air became a charnel breath,
Pale stones were splashed with red.

Green leaves were dappled bright with blood
And fruit trees murdered in the bud;
And when at length the dawn
Came green as twilight from the east,
And all that heaving horror ceased,
Silent was every bird and beast,
And that dark voice was gone.

No word was there, no song, no bell,
No furious tongue that dream to tell;
Only the dead, who rose and fell
Above the wounded men;
And whisperings and wails of pain
Blown slowly from the wounded grain,
Blown slowly from the smoking plain;
And silence fallen again.

Until at dusk, from God knows where,
Beneath dark birds that filled the air,
Like one who did not hear or care,
Under a blood-red cloud,
An aged ploughman came alone
And drove his share through flesh and bone,
And turned them under to mould and stone;
All night long he ploughed.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (puttin' on mah boots)
John Keats, "A Song About Myself"

I.
There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be-
He took
In his knapsack
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels,
A slight cap
For night cap,
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at's back
He rivetted close
And followed his nose
To the north,
To the north,
And follow'd his nose
To the north.

II. There was a naughty boy And a naughty boy was he, For nothing would he do But scribble poetry- )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana in the field)
Vachel Lindsay, "A Net to Snare the Moonlight"


[What the Man of Faith said]

The dew, the rain and moonlight
All prove our Father's mind.
The dew, the rain and moonlight
Descend to bless mankind.

Come, let us see that all men
Have land to catch the rain,
Have grass to snare the spheres of dew,
And fields spread for the grain.

Yea, we would give to each poor man
Ripe wheat and poppies red, —
A peaceful place at evening
With the stars just overhead:

A net to snare the moonlight,
A sod spread to the sun,
A place of toil by daytime,
Of dreams when toil is done.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (swan princess)
Man, men get so hung up on menstrual blood. Dudes, I promise you, when you're the one actually producing it, you get past the cosmic symbolism of it and into the mundane practicalities and the mundane irritations of it all really fast. (Or maybe not; some women get very hung up on the cosmic symbolism of menstruation, too. Either way, I find it flakey, but I suppose with the women who obsess about menstruation, they're likely to have at least experienced it at some point.)


Conrad Aiken, excerpted from "Blues for Ruby Matrix."

VII

But God's terrific wing that day came down,
loud on the world as loud and white as snow
out of the blue the white and then the silence.
O Ruby, come again and turn the time.

Ruby your name is matrix, rock of ages
cloven by lightning, smitten by thunder,
the surged upon deep shore interminable,
the long, the nebulous waves, the foam of time,

beating upon you, breaking upon you foaming,
the worldlong fruitfulness of assuaging sea,
hammers of foam, O Ruby come again
be broken for our simple coming forth--

let the rocks fall upon us with fearful sound,
the long bright glacier of the stars be broken
the beginning and the final word be spoken
come again, come again, and turn the world.

This world that is your turning and returning,
matrix mother mistress menstrual moon,
wafer of scarlet in the virgin void,
O come again and turn the world to thought.

But God's terrific wing that day came down
snow on the world, and Ruby, you were snow.
deceitful whiteness and the blood congealed
so that the world might know how worlds will end.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (that was unexpected and kinda sweet)
May Swenson, "Water Picture"


In the pond in the park
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and
wriggle gently. Chimneys
are bent legs bouncing
on clouds below. A flag
wags like a fishhook
down there in the sky.

The arched stone bridge
is an eye, with underlid
in the water. In its lens
dip crinkled heads with hats
that don't fall off. Dogs go by,
barking on their backs.
A baby, taken to feed the
ducks, dangles upside-down,
a pink balloon for a buoy.

Treetops deploy a haze of
cherry bloom for roots,
where birds coast belly-up
in the glass bowl of a hill;
from its bottom a bunch
of peanut-munching children
is suspended by their
sneakers, waveringly.

A swan, with twin necks
forming the figure 3,
steers between two dimpled
towers doubled. Fondly
hissing, she kisses herself,
and all the scene is troubled:
water-windows splinter,
tree-limbs tangle, the bridge
folds like a fan.
cerusee: a blonde woman hanging stars in a cartoon sky (art)
Robert Browning, "My Star"

All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (tra la la)
e.e. cummings, "maggie and milly and molly and may"

10

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (greenleo)
Jack Spicer did not have a positive attitude on life. That's all I'm sayin'.

Jack Spicer, "A Book Of Music"


Coming at an end, the lovers
Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where
Did it end? There is no telling. No love is
Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves' boundaries
From which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbye
Like death.
Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a length
Of coiled rope
Which does not disguise in the final twists of its lengths
Its endings.
But, you will say, we loved
And some parts of us loved
And the rest of us will remain
Two persons. Yes,
Poetry ends like a rope.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (woman with hamster)
The NYT did this nifty little piece with poems prompted by tax-season, and this one grabbed me. Laura Kasischke, "April."



That was the year in which
we had to pay
the tax on love, which

was grief, of course. Of
course, it was
more than we
could ever afford. They’d

heard that story before.

Don’t answer the phone.

But now we know:
If you don’t answer the phone,
they come to the door.

Our only deduction
was our only hope:
The expensive coat

she’d never worn. Not
once. Not a single
stroll along the lake.
Not one snowstorm.

But life went on
and would go on, and
there were atomic
stockpiles to pay for.
The schools
were failing.
The dogs
howled alongside
the coyotes every night.
For which, some personal
responsibility we bore.
Right?

But the days were
blinding, as
always, in April. All
that white paper. Such

light, like April. Like
the light that a child, lost
in a cathedral for weeks,
might finally need to eat.

The petals of the lilies
and the communion wafers
and the emptiness peeled
from the bottom
of the empty collection plate.

For instance, she died
with an eye
still open, and
in the pupil —

Yes, I hate to say it:

April.
Of course.
In which a tiny agent
at a tiny desk
with a gleaming
pinprick for a pen

crunched her numbers,
pored over her forms.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (her divine majesty yoko)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Wild Swans"


I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (it falls on you and you die)
--jolted, and

terrified by the sour skip,
the little pain, peeping up its head,
from passing time to time,
under the rib; the gnawing worry,
festering in that little absence;
the missing moment where the heart should beat
becomes an abscess,
growing sick and full of fear--
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (greenlee and david)
Lisel Mueller, "Love Like Salt"

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana in the field)
Jane Kenyon, "Happiness"


There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Judson Micham, "Etiquette."


June goes gaudy with bad boutonnieres—
flamingo mimosas, the giant
magnolia's bowl of petals. Let us consider

the man not welcome at the wedding.
What's the etiquette for the bad father?
What's the right flower for the ignored-

with-good-reason, the uninvited? A hydrangea,
head wide as a cabbage; or the bull thistle
wild along the roads; or a dandelion,

only a stalk stuck to his lapel by the time
he insists on their dance? He is a sad weed
himself, this man who has no daughter

but tries to hold her.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (singing down the moon)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Assault."


I had forgotten how the frogs must sound
After a year of silence, else I think
I should not so have ventured forth alone
At dusk upon this unfrequented road.

I am waylaid by Beauty. Who will walk
Between me and the crying of the frogs?
Oh, savage Beauty, suffer me to pass,
That am a timid woman, on her way
From one house to another!
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
W.H. Auden, "The More Loving One"


Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

January 2017

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