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You can see it already: chalks and ochers; 
   Country crossed with a thousand furrow-lines;
Ground-level rooftops hidden by the shrubbery; 
   Sporadic haystacks standing on the grass;
Smoky old rooftops tarnishing the landscape; 
   A river (not Cayster or Ganges, though:
A feeble Norman salt-infested watercourse); 
   On the right, to the north, bizarre terrain
All angular—you'd think a shovel did it. 
   So that's the foreground. An old chapel adds
Its antique spire, and gathers alongside it 
   A few gnarled elms with grumpy silhouettes;
Seemingly tired of all the frisky breezes, 
   They carp at every gust that stirs them up.
At one side of my house a big wheelbarrow 
   Is rusting; and before me lies the vast
Horizon, all its notches filled with ocean blue; 
   Cocks and hens spread their gildings, and converse
Beneath my window; and the rooftop attics, 
   Now and then, toss me songs in dialect.
In my lane dwells a patriarchal rope-maker; 
   The old man makes his wheel run loud, and goes
Retrograde, hemp wreathed tightly round the midriff. 
   I like these waters where the wild gale scuds;
All day the country tempts me to go strolling; 
   The little village urchins, book in hand,
Envy me, at the schoolmaster's (my lodging), 
   As a big schoolboy sneaking a day off.
The air is pure, the sky smiles; there's a constant 	
   Soft noise of children spelling things aloud.
The waters flow; a linnet flies; and I say: "Thank you! 
   Thank you, Almighty God!"—So, then, I live:
Peacefully, hour by hour, with little fuss, I shed 
   My days, and think of you, my lady fair!
I hear the children chattering; and I see, at times, 
   Sailing across the high seas in its pride,
Over the gables of the tranquil village, 
   Some winged ship which is traveling far away,
Flying across the ocean, hounded by all the winds. 
   Lately it slept in port beside the quay.
Nothing has kept it from the jealous sea-surge:
   No tears of relatives, nor fears of wives, 
Nor reefs dimly reflected in the waters,
   Nor importunity of sinister birds.

Self-Portrait as Mae West One-Liner

I'm no moaning bluet, mountable
linnet, mumbling nun. I'm
tangible, I'm gin. Able to molt
in toto, to limn. I'm blame and angle, I'm
lumbago, an oblate mug gone notable,
not glum. I'm a tabu tuba mogul, I'm motile,
I'm nimble. No gab ennui, no bagel bun-boat: I'm one
big mega-ton bolt able to bail
men out. Gluten iamb. Male bong unit.
I'm a genial bum, mental obi, genital
montage. I'm Agent Limbo, my blunt bio
an amulet, an enigma. Omit elan. Omit bingo.
Alien mangle, I'm glib lingo. Untangle me,
tangelo. But I'm no angel.



It could be snow, the way it floats, or ash
from ancient volcanoes awake and exploding. But instead

it’s seeds wrapped in something like down, released by the thousands
from cottonwood trees. If they land near water they grow

but mostly they don’t.

The sun starts to set and the air turns the color of a calm fire,
as if there were such a thing. Fire is always growing or dying,

and I love to feed it until it licks beyond what I can reach,
then I kill it or it might take everything.


My brothers and sister catch the seeds like fireflies. They ask
if it glows in their hands. They’ve only seen the bright bugs on TV,

where happy kids hold them and watch the light
flickering, contained.

And Mother waits for Father to come home. Maybe she just got back herself.
Maybe she didn’t. Maybe he won’t.


I watch the white spots slide across the achingly orange sun
and catch one or don’t, and see the old volcanoes, so far away

it would take a hard day of walking to get partly there; they slither into darkness.
And the mother mosquitoes gather blood for their eggs, and the stars wake,

and the crickets creak their noise to bring the females to them. But I will be different.
And the spiders wake and weave something beautiful to be destroyed

in the morning. But under the fireplace, the black widows create chaotic things,
webs just for eating, as if they didn’t care about beauty. But I care, at least

I think I do, and the daddy longlegs prance around the body
like it’s a sacred object: bright enough to bring the insects, but too hot to walk across.

I will be a seed that finds water and grows into a tree who doesn’t need anybody.