April 28, 2013

Leaves of Grass: An Excerpt

by Walt Whitman 

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? ... I do not know what it is any more
        than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see
        and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child... the produced babe of the

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
         receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

April 17, 2013

Language Lessons

by Alexandra Teague 
The carpet in the kindergarten room
was alphabet blocks; all of us fidgeting
on bright, primary letters. On the shelf
sat that week's inflatable sound. The th
was shaped like a tooth. We sang
about brushing up and down, practiced
exhaling while touching our tongues
to our teeth. Next week, a puffy U
like an upside-down umbrella; the rest
of the alphabet deflated. Some days,
we saw parents through the windows
to the hallway sky. Look, a fat lady,
a boy beside me giggled. Until then
I'd only known my mother as beautiful.

April 08, 2013

Somebody Trying

by Denise Levertov

‘That creep Tolstoy,’ she sobbed.
‘He. . . He. . . couldn’t even. . .’
Something about his brother dying.

The serfs’ punishments
have not ceased to suppurate on their backs.
Woodlots. People. Someone crying

under the yellow
autumn birchgrove drove him
wild: A new set of resolves:

When gambling, that almost obsolete fever,
or three days with the gypsies
sparked him into pure ego, he could,

just the same, write home, ‘Sell them.’
It’s true. ‘Still,’ (someone who loved her said,
cold and firm while she dissolved,

hypocrite, in self disgust, lectrice)
‘Still, he kept on. He wrote
all that he wrote; and seems to have understood

better than most of us:
to be human isn’t easy. It’s not
easy to be a serf or a master and learn

that art. It takes nerve. Bastard. Fink.
Yet the grief
trudging behind his funeral, he earned.’