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*** Poetry ***


Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes --Billy Collins

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird - Wallace Stevens

I Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. II I was of three minds, Like a tree In which there are three blackbirds. III The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime. IV A man and a woman Are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird Are one. V I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after. VI Icicles filled the long window With barbaric glass. The shadow of the blackbird Crossed it, to and fro. The mood Traced in the shadow An indecipherable cause. VII O thin men of Haddam, Why do you imagine golden birds? Do you not see how the blackbird Walks around the feet Of the women about you? VIII I know noble accents And lucid, inescapable rhythms; But I know, too, That the blackbird is involved In what I know. IX When the blackbird flew out of sight, It marked the edge Of one of many circles. X At the sight of blackbirds Flying in a green light, Even the bawds of euphony Would cry out sharply. XI He rode over Connecticut In a glass coach. Once, a fear pierced him, In that he mistook The shadow of his equipage For blackbirds. XII The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying. XIII It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing And it was going to snow. The blackbird sat In the cedar-limbs.

Shoveling Snow With Buddha by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok you would never see him doing such a thing, tossing the dry snow over a mountain of his bare, round shoulder, his hair tied in a knot, a model of concentration. Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word for what he does, or does not do. Even the season is wrong for him. In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid? Is this not implied by his serene expression, that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe? But here we are, working our way down the driveway, one shovelful at a time. We toss the light powder into the clear air. We feel the cold mist on our faces. And with every heave we disappear and become lost to each other in these sudden clouds of our own making, these fountain-bursts of snow. This is so much better than a sermon in church, I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling. This is the true religion, the religion of snow, and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky, I say, but he is too busy to hear me. He has thrown himself into shoveling snow as if it were the purpose of existence, as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway you could back the car down easily and drive off into the vanities of the world with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio. All morning long we work side by side, me with my commentary and he inside his generous pocket of silence, until the hour is nearly noon and the snow is piled high all around us; then, I hear him speak. After this, he asks, can we go inside and play cards? Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table while you shuffle the deck. and our boots stand dripping by the door. Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes and leaning for a moment on his shovel before he drives the thin blade again deep into the glittering white snow.

Dharma by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door every morning without a hat or an umbrella, without any money or the keys to her doghouse never fails to fill the saucer of my heart with milky admiration. Who provides a finer example of a life without encumbrance— Thoreau in his curtainless hut with a single plate, a single spoon? Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers? Off she goes into the material world with nothing but her brown coat and her modest blue collar, following only her wet nose, the twin portals of her steady breathing, followed only by the plume of her tail. If only she did not shove the cat aside every morning and eat all his food what a model of self-containment she would be, what a paragon of earthly detachment. If only she were not so eager for a rub behind the ears, so acrobatic in her welcomes, if only I were not her god.

The Bath by Russell Edson

A man was taking a bath in a tub of turkey gravy; floating a rubber duck to while away eternity. Eating mashed potatoes, dipping forkfuls in his bath It was gorgeous, the whole thing, he thought, me in soak with a duck, having mashed potatoes and gravy, while out there a whole crazy world...

The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje

If I were a cinnamon peeler I would ride your bed and leave the yellow bark dust on your pillow. Your breasts and shoulders would reek you could never walk through markets without the profession of my fingers floating over you. The blind would stumble certain of whom they approached though you might bathe under rain gutters, monsoon. Here on the upper thigh at this smooth pasture neighbor to your hair or the crease that cuts your back. This ankle. You will be known among strangers as the cinnamon peeler's wife. I could hardly glance at you before marriage never touch you -- your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers. I buried my hands in saffron, disguised them over smoking tar, helped the honey gatherers... When we swam once I touched you in water and our bodies remained free, you could hold me and be blind of smell. You climbed the bank and said this is how you touch other women the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter. And you searched your arms for the missing perfume. and knew what good is it to be the lime burner's daughter left with no trace as if not spoken to in an act of love as if wounded without the pleasure of scar. You touched your belly to my hands in the dry air and said I am the cinnamon peeler's wife. Smell me.

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean-- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life?

A Supermarket In California by Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit- man, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations! What peaches and what penumbras! Whole fam- ilies shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons? I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective. We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight? (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.) Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely. Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage? Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage- teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe? Berkeley 1955

Howl by Allen Ginsberg

For Carl Solomon I I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- ery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofs illuminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall, who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- cohol and cock and endless balls, incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- tionless world of Time between, Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook- lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo, who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat through the stale beer after noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox, who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- lyn Bridge, lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon, yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars, whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement, who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall, suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- ings and migraines of China under junk-with- drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts, who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- father night, who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- ionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels, who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- homa on the impulse of winter midnight street light smalltown rain, who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa, who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire place Chicago, who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- prehensible leaflets, who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed, who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons, who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication, who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- scripts, who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy, who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love, who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose gardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may, who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword, who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom, who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- dle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness, who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake, who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too, who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hung over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- ment offices, who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium, who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion, who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery, who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music, who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts, who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology, who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish, who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom, who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg, who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade, who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- fully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried, who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis- ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- pened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steam whistles, who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation, who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity, who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes, who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other's salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz, who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave, who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp notism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury, who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- stantaneous lobotomy, and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- therapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia, who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia, returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East, Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon, with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- nished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination-- ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're really in the total animal soup of time-- and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat- ing plane, who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intel- ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head, the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death, and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years. II What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- nation? Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob tainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men! Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- ned governments! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni- bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb! Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac- tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities! Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind! Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch! Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky! Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs! They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave- ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us! Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river! Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit! Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De- spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time! Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street! III Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland where you're madder than I am I'm with you in Rockland where you must feel very strange I'm with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother I'm with you in Rockland where you've murdered your twelve secretaries I'm with you in Rockland where you laugh at this invisible humor I'm with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter I'm with you in Rockland where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio I'm with you in Rockland where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses I'm with you in Rockland where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica I'm with you in Rockland where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx I'm with you in Rockland where you scream in a straightjacket that you're losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss I'm with you in Rockland where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse I'm with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void I'm with you in Rockland where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha I'm with you in Rockland where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb I'm with you in Rockland where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale I'm with you in Rockland where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won't let us sleep I'm with you in Rockland where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we're free I'm with you in Rockland in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night San Francisco 1955-56

America by Allen Ginsberg

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing. America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956. I can't stand my own mind. America when will we end the human war? Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb. I don't feel good don't bother me. I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind. America when will you be angelic? When will you take off your clothes? When will you look at yourself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites? America why are your libraries full of tears? America when will you send your eggs to India? I'm sick of your insane demands. When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks? America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world. Your machinery is too much for me. You made me want to be a saint. There must be some other way to settle this argument. Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister. Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke? I'm trying to come to the point. I refuse to give up my obsession. America stop pushing I know what I'm doing. America the plum blossoms are falling. I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder. America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies. America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm not sorry. I smoke marijuana every chance I get. I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet. When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid. My mind is made up there's going to be trouble. You should have seen me reading Marx. My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right. I won't say the Lord's Prayer. I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations. America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia. I'm addressing you. Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine? I'm obsessed by Time Magazine. I read it every week. Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore. I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library. It's always telling me about responsibility. Business- men are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me. It occurs to me that I am America. I am talking to myself again. Asia is rising against me. I haven't got a chinaman's chance. I'd better consider my national resources. My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions. I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns. I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go. My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic. America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood? I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they're all different sexes. America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe America free Tom Mooney America save the Spanish Loyalists America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die America I am the Scottsboro boys. America when I was seven momma took me to Com- munist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sin- cere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy. America you don't really want to go to war. America it's them bad Russians. Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians. The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages. Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers' Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingsta- tions. That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help. America this is quite serious. America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set. America is this correct? I'd better get right down to the job. It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway. America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. Berkeley, January 17, 1956

i thank you God for most this amazing... (65) by e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth day of life and love and wings:and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any--lifted from the no of all nothing--human merely being doubt unimaginable You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Constantly Risking Absurdity by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Constantly risking absurdity and death whenever he performs above the heads of his audience the poet like an acrobat climbs on rime to a high wire of his own making and balancing on eyebeams above a sea of faces paces his way to the other side of the day performing entrechats and sleight-of-foot tricks and other high theatrics and all without mistaking any thing for what it may not be For he's the super realist who must perforce perceive taut truth before the taking of each stance or step in his supposed advance toward that still higher perch where Beauty stands and waits with gravity to start her death-defying leap And he a little charleychaplin man who may or may not catch her fair eternal form spreadeagled in the empty air of existence

Seascape With Sun And Eagle by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Freer than most birds an eagle flies up over San Francisco freer than most places soars high up floats and glides high up in the still open spaces flown from the mountains floated down far over ocean where the sunset has begun a mirror of itself He sails high over turning and turning where seaplanes might turn where warplanes might burn He wheels about burning in the red sun climbs and glides and doubles back upon himself now over ocean now over land high over pinwheels suck in sand where a rollercoaster used to stand soaring eagle setting sun All that is left of our wilderness
 
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