Monday, April 13, 2015

Favorite Poems (in honor of National Poetry Month)

I've long been a big fan of National Poetry Month. I especially loved it when my kids' schools joined the celebration and encouraged them with poems that were fun, accessible, and yet still plenty meaningful.

My taste in poetry has changed through the years. Here are some poems with which I am currently delighted:

Ed by Louis Simpson

Ed was in love with a cocktail waitress,
but Ed's family, and his friends,
didn't approve. So he broke it off.

He married a respectable woman
who played the piano. She played well enough
to have been a professional.

Ed's wife left him...
Years later, at a family gathering,
Ed got drunk and made a fool of himself.

He said, "I should have married Doreen."
"Well," they said, "why didn't you?"


The Great Escape by Charles Bukowski

listen, he said, you ever seen a bunch of crabs in
a
bucket?
no, I told him.
well, what happens is that now and then one crab
will climb up on top of the others
and begin to climb toward the top of the bucket,
then, just as he's about to escape
another crab grabs him and pulls him back
down.
really? I asked.
really, he said, and this job is just like that, none
of the others want anybody to get out of
here. That's just the way it is
in the postal service!
I believe you, I said.

just then the supervisor walked up and said,
you fellows were talking
there is not talking allowed on this
job.

I had been there for eleven and one-half
years.

I got up off my stool and climbed right up the
supervisor.
and then I reached up and pulled myself right
out of there.

it was so easy it was unbelievable.
but none of the others followed me.

and after that, whenever I had crab legs
I thought about that place.
I must have thought about that place
maybe 5 or 6 times.

before I switched to lobster.

Autobiography in Five Chapters by Portia Nelson

1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep home in the sidewalk
I see it is there.
I still fall in... it's a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.
Thee is a deep home in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.


The Lesson of the Moth by Don Marquis

I was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt I asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist and to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
out attitude toward life
is come easy and go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before I could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
I do not agree with him
myself I would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time I wish
there was something I wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


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