Archive for the ‘Bookshelf’ Category

Retired ballerinas on winter afternoons

     walking their dogs

          in Central Park West

  (or their cats on leashes –

    the cats themselves old highwire artists)

The ballerinas

      leap and pirouette

           through Columbus Circle

   while winos on park benches

     (laid back like drunken Goudonovs)

    hear the taxis trumpet together

      like horsemen of the apocalypse

            in the dusk of the gods

It is the final witching hour

       when swains are full of swan songs

   And all return through the dark dusk

       to their bright cells

             in glass highrises

    or sit down to oval cigarettes and cakes

           in the Russian Tea Room

or climb four flights to back rooms

            in Westside brownstones

      where faded playbill photos

          fall peeling from their frames

              like last year’s autumn leaves


 ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born on this day in 1919


"Dancer with a Hoop" by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

“Dancer with a Hoop” by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

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The Enkindled Spring

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,

Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,

Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between

Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.


I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration

Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze

Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,

Faces of people streaming across my gaze.


And I, what fountain of fire am I among

This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed

About like a shadow buffeted in the throng

Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.


                                                              ~ D. H. Lawrence


“Spring in Gościeradz” by Leon Wyczółkowski, 1933

“Spring in Gościeradz” by Leon Wyczółkowski, 1933

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Touch of Spring

Thin wind winds off the water,

earth lies locked in dead snow,

but sun slants in under the yew hedge,

and the ground there is bare,

with some green blades there,

and my cat knows…


From “Touch of Spring” by John Updike, born on this day in 1932



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Sky a shook poncho.

Roof wrung.  Mind a luna moth

Caught in a banjo.


This weather’s witty

Peek-a-boo.  A study in



Blues!  Blooms!  The yodel

Of the chimney in night wind.

That flat daffodil.


With absurd hauteur

New tulips dab their shadows

In water-mutter.


Boys are such oxen.

Girls! – sepal-shudder, shadow-

Waver.  Equinox.


Plums on the Quad did

Blossom all at once, taking

Down the power grid.


~ Richard Kenney


Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

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In Time

As far as clocks – and it is time to think of them –

I have one on my kitchen shelf and it is

flat, with a machine-made flair, a perfect

machine from 1948, at the latest,

and made of shining plastic with the numbers

sharp and clear and slightly magnified in

that heartbreaking post-war style, the cord

too short, though what does it matter, since the mechanism

is broken and it sits unplugged alongside a

cheap ceramic rooster, his head insanely

small and yet his tiny brain alert for

he is the one who will crow and not that broken

buzzing relic, though time is different now

and dawn is different too, you were up all night

and it is dark when he crows and you are waiting

to see what direction you should face and if

you were born in time or was it wasted and what

the day looks like and is the rooster loyal.


                                                           ~ Gerald Stern


Posted in anticipation of Daylight Saving Time and long, sunlit evenings.


Spencer Gore

Spencer Gore

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It’s a motley lot.  A few still stand

at attention like sentries at the ends

of their driveways, but more lean

askance as if they’d just received a blow

to the head, and in fact they’ve received

many, all winter, from jets of wet snow

shooting off the curved, tapered blade

of the plow.  Some look wobbly, cocked

at oddball angles or slumping forlornly

on precariously listing posts.  One box

bows steeply forward, as if in disgrace, its door

lolling sideways, unhinged.  Others are dented,

battered, streaked with rust, bandaged in duct tape,

crisscrossed with clothesline or bungee cords.

A few lie abashed in remnants of the very snow

that knocked them from their perches.

Another is wedged in the crook of a tree

like a birdhouse, its post shattered nearby.

I almost feel sorry for them, worn out

by the long winter, off-kilter, not knowing

what hit them, trying to hold themselves

together, as they wait for news from spring.


                                       ~ Jeffrey Harrison


Scottius 11

Scottius 11

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Late February

The first warm day,

and by mid-afternoon

the snow is no more

than a washing

strewn over the yards,

the bedding rolled in knots

and leaking water,

the white shirts lying

under the evergreens.

Through the heaviest drifts

rise autumn’s fallen

bicycles, small carnivals

of paint and chrome,

the Octopus

and Tilt-A-Whirl

beginning to turn

in the sun.  Now children,

stiffened by winter

and dressed, somehow,

like old men, mutter

and bend to the work

of building dams.

But such a spring is brief;

by five o’clock

the chill of sundown,

darkness, the blue TVs

flashing like storms

in the picture windows,

the yards gone gray,

the wet dogs barking

at nothing.  Far off

across the cornfields

staked for streets and sewers,

the body of a farmer

missing since fall

will show up

in his garden tomorrow,

as unexpected

as a tulip.


~ Ted Kooser


"Tulip" by Nicolas Verdeille, 2005

“Tulip” by Nicolas Verdeille, 2005

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