mail me archives
Thursday, February 20, 2003

P o e m s

“The reader of a good poem does not discuss ideas with the poet; he becomes the poet and relives the experience of the poet’s imagination.”

-John Ciardi-


Poems of the strangest-

I’ve read two really challenging poems recently. Both are blasts of narrative and imagination spiked in personal fingerprints. The poems tap into mental locales, rumble through nostalgia, and extol visual savvy. A hardboiled reporter and a fancy dreamer meet- to conspire against linguistic complacency and formalism.


Kenneth Fearing

“As a senior in high school, Kenneth Fearing was voted wittiest boy and class pessimist. If there had been elections for class cynic and class misanthropist, he would probably have won these as well. After his death, his friends would remember his charm, his eloquence, his almost courtly manners, his prickly independence, his not-quite-hidden vulnerability and innocence--but mostly they would remember his gloomy, sardonic skepticism.”

-Robert M. Ryley-



Kenneth Fearing 1902 -1961


1-2-3 was the number he played but today the number came 3-2-1;
Bought his carbide at 30 and it went to 29; had the favorite at Bowie
but the track was slow-

O executive type, would you like to drive a floating-power, knee-action, silk-upholstered six?
Wed a Hollywood star? Shoot the
course in 58? Draw to the ace, king, jack?
O fellow with a will who won’t take no, watch out for three cigarettes
on the same, single match; O democratic voter born in August
under Mars, beware of liquidated rails-

Denouement to denouement, he took a personal pride in the certain,
certain way he lived his own, private life,
But nevertheless, they shut off his gas; nevertheless, the bank foreclosed;
nevertheless the landlord called; nevertheless, the radio broke,

And twelve o’clock arrives just once too often,
Just the same he wore one gray tweed suit, bought one straw hat,
drank one straight Scotch, walked one short step, took one long
look, drew one deep breath,
Just one too many,

And wow he died as wow he lived,
Going whop to the office and blooie home to sleep and biff got
married and bam had children and oof got fired,
Zowie did he live and zowie did he die,

With who the hell are at the corner of his casket, and where the
hell we’re going on the right-hand silver knob, and who the
hell cares walking second from the end with an American Beauty
wreath from why the hell not,

Very much missed by the circulation staff of the New York Evening
Post; deeply, deeply mourned by the B.M.T.
Wham, Mr. Roosevelt; pow, Sears Roebuck; awk, big dipper; bopy,
summer rain;
Bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong.


© New and Selected Poems by Kenneth Fearing – 1956 Indiana University Press



“Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to liberal, indulgent parents who from early on encouraged him to develop his creative gifts. While at Harvard, where his father had taught before becoming a Unitarian minister, he delivered a daring commencement address on modernist artistic innovations, thus announcing the direction his own work would take. In 1917, after working briefly for a mail-order publishing company, the only regular employment in his career, Cummings volunteered to serve in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance group in France.
Here he and a friend were imprisoned (on false grounds) for three months in a French detention camp. The Enormous Room (1922), his witty and absorbing account of the experience, was also the first of his literary attacks on authoritarianism.”

-Nicholas Everett-



E.E.Cummings – 1894 - 1962


Anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for not anyone at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by till
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died I guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain


© E.E.Cummings 1940 – from poems 1923-1954 Harcourt, Brace & World Inc


posted by Walter at 2/20/2003

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Angel in gray

It’s a dull late Monday afternoon. I have just finished a long city walk and I’m taking a detour around the housing block where I live, in order stop by at the City’s Royal Concert Hall ticket office. While doing so I pass along quickly down the row of luxury offices situated opposite the Concert building.

-I must profess of a personal caprice: during my walks I like to peek inside luxury shops, offices, and agencies to have a look at shop attendants, office workers and secretaries. During the daytime personnel are mostly oblivious to passers-by giving me a chance to take mental snapshots. The scenes that I witness while passing are mostly stagnant scenarios- people sitting at their terminals; lodged behind their counters; or standing by idly, waiting for customers. Sometimes they interact with one another, but generally those observed are focussed on their own tasks; doing so quietly, almost aloof-

The row of offices lining the square opposite Royal Concert Hall consists of a variety of lawyer firms, real estate brokers, and financial consultants. In one of the offices, partly obscured by Venetian blinds, I notice two people at a table positioned in the middle of a stylish wood-paneled room. One is a middle-aged gentleman sitting in a swivel-chair, dressed in a shirt and tie- with his upper body hunched over slightly, resting his arms on a stack of documents, holding a fountain pen in his right hand. The person standing next to him, is a blonde young woman: her right arm is resting on her hip, while her left arm is held behind her back. The woman is white; tall, and statuesque. She is wearing a dark gray dress that contrasts sharply with her face. Her long blonde hair is cascading down to her chest in two wavy strands, separated by her breasts. Her face is a near translucent pale ivory- at the center of which her huge blue eyes almost seem to protrude with eagerness trying to escape from the office and reconnect with the world outside.

While her employer continues signing the documents that she has put before him. The woman stands transfixed. Momentarily her eyes meet mine- as I hurry past, elated and stirred to think how much I would have loved to take that photograph with me- printed on a large format, hung to my wall.


posted by Walter at 2/18/2003