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“Will there really be a morning?”
Emily Dickinson

Will there really be a “Morning”?
Is there such a thing as “Day”?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?
Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?
Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called “Morning” lies!
“Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Only until this cigarette is ended,
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,—farewell!—the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The color and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

The Terrorist, He’s Watching | Wisława

“Terrorysta, on patrzy”
Wisława Szymborska

Bomba wybuchnie w barze trzynasta dwadzieścia.
Teraz mamy dopiero trzynastą szesnaście.
Niektórzy zdążą jeszcze wejść.
Niektórzy wyjść.
Terrorysta już przeszedł na drugą stronę ulicy.
Ta odległość go chroni od wszelkiego złego
no i widok jak w kinie:
Kobieta w żółtej kurtce, ona wchodzi.
Mężczyzna w ciemnych okularach, on wychodzi.
Chłopaki w dżinsach, oni rozmawiają.
Trzynasta siedemnaście i cztery sekundy.
Ten niższy to ma szczęście i wsiada na skuter,
a ten wyższy to wchodzi.
Trzynasta siedemnaście i czterdzieści sekund.
Dziewczyna, ona idzie z zieloną wstążką we włosach.
Tylko że ten autobus nagle ją zasłania.
Trzynasta osiemnaście.
Już nie ma dziewczyny.
Czy była taka głupia i weszła, czy nie,
to się zobaczy, jak będą wynosić.
Trzynasta dziewiętnaście.
Nikt jakoś nie wchodzi.
Za to jeszcze wychodzi jeden gruby łysy.
Ale tak, jakby szukał czegoś po kieszeniach i
o trzynastej dwadzieścia bez dziesięciu sekund
wraca po te swoje marne rękawiczki.
Jest trzynasta dwadzieścia.
Czas, jak on się wlecze.
Już chyba teraz.
Jeszcze nie teraz.
Tak, teraz.
Bomba, ona wybucha. 

translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

“The Terrorist, He’s Watching”
Wisława Szymborska
The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it’s just thirteen sixteen.
There’s still time for some to go in,
and some to come out.
The terrorist has already crossed the street.
The distance keeps him out of danger,
and what a view – just like the movies:
A woman in a yellow jacket, she’s going in.
A man in dark glasses, he’s coming out.
Teen-agers in jeans, they’re talking.
Thirteen seventeen and four seconds.
The short one, he’s lucky, he’s getting on a scooter,
but the tall one, he’s going in.
Thirteen seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl, she’s walking along with a green ribbon in her hair.
But then a bus suddenly pulls in front of her.
Thirteen eighteen.
The girl’s gone.
Was she that dumb, did she go in or not,
we’ll see when they carry them out.
Thirteen nineteen.
Somehow no one’s going in.
Another guy, fat, bald, is leaving, though.
Wait a second, looks like he’s looking for something in his pockets and
at thirteen twenty minus ten seconds
he goes back in for his crummy gloves.
Thirteen twenty exactly.
This waiting, it’s taking forever.
Any second now.
No, not yet.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.
“God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children”
Yehuda Amichai
God has pity on kindergarten children.
He has less pity on school children.
And on grownups he has no pity at all,
he leaves them alone,
and sometimes they must crawl on all fours
in the burning sand
to reach the first-aid station
covered with blood.
But perhaps he will watch over true lovers
and have mercy on them and shelter them
like a tree over the old man
sleeping on a public bench.
Perhaps we too will give them
the last rare coins of compassion
that Mother handed down to us,
so that their happiness will protect us
now and in other days.

For the Falling Man | Annie Farnsworth

“For the Falling Man”
Annie Farnsworth

I see you again and again
tumbling out of the sky,
in your slate-grey suit and pressed white shirt.
At first I thought you were debris
from the explosion, maybe gray plaster wall
or fuselage but then I realized
that people were leaping.
I know who you are, I know
there’s more to you than just this image
on the news, this ragdoll plummeting—
I know you were someone’s lover, husband,
daddy. Last night you read stories
to your children, tucked them in, then curled into sleep
next to your wife. Perhaps there was small
sleepy talk of the future. Then,
before your morning coffee had cooled
you’d come to this; a choice between fire
or falling.
How feeble these words, billowing
in this aftermath, how ineffectual
this utterance of sorrow. We can see plainly
it’s hopeless, even as the words trail from our mouths
—but we can’t help ourselves—how I wish
we could trade them for something
that could really have caught you.
“As Once The Winged Energy Of Delight"
Rainer Maria Rilke

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.
Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.
To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.
Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions…For the god
wants to know himself in you.

Red, Orange, Yellow | Donald Hall

“Red, Orange, Yellow”
Donald Hall

For five years of my life, or ten,
I lived no-color.
In a beige room I talked
clipped whispers
with a lady who faded while I looked at her.
Even our voices were oyster-white.
My generous monsters
were pale as puff-balls of dust.
Leaves on trees I grew
turned dingy. I mowed pale grass.
Friends parked station-wagons like huge dead mice
by my house that was nearly invisible.
Dollar bills lost color
when I kept them in my wallet.
I dreamed of mountains gray like oceans
with no house-lights on them,
only coffins that walked and talked
and buried each other continually
in beige rock in beige sand.
So I looked for the color yellow.
I drank yellow for breakfast,
orange at lunch, gold for dinner.
Red was the color of pain.
Now I eat red
all day. The sky is her yellow.
Sometimes no-color years
rise in slow motion,
like Mozart on drums. Their name is Chumble.
They smile
like pale grass, looking downward.
But red sticks
needles in my eyes.
dozes on the beach at Big Sur
or in the center of my new room
like a cactus
that lives without water, for a year. 
”At One-Hundred A Miracle Happens”
Benjamin C. Clark 

Mother found you sobbing
in our plastic kids’ swimming
pool, almost buried in dead
toads, cradling all you
could, maybe thirty or forty
sun-scorched bodies.
The rest, that flopped
from your thin country
arms or that you couldn’t
pick up in the first place
(not enough hands,
too many hands),
piled against your
ankles, slipped under
your feet when you
finally tried to stand.

A week before, you called
them each by name, tamed
them with coos, croaks, and
whispers, wiped your arms
in the gift of their urine, was
asked into the family, fed
them, worshipped with them,
offered them a home.

While dad and I
dumped the bodies,
crumbling leaves,
into the incinerator,
and hosed down
the pool shivering
against the garage-
door you gasped
to mother I
didn’t mean to
let the sun get so
hot, I forgot
to move them to
the shade, I
only wanted to see
what happened
at one-hundred.

And it is true, while preaching addition
months before, I also taught you God.
When you asked, what happens
at one-hundred? I held the answer
in my mouth like a miracle,
water now wine, made you wait
to taste it, whispered like the second-
coming, made you beg for it,
then at last described the sound,
the shape of ninety-nine
finding one-hundred.

And you,
only six,
began one,
two, three,
four. You
collected sticks
and stones, bottles
of every color and
shape, abandoned
sparrow nests, snake
skins, and rusty nails,
but nothing happened.
When you asked why
has nothing happened, I said
you have to count the living
for the rapture to occur. And of course,
with you still spelling brother
b-e-l-i-e-v-e, you started searching for life.

We know now that you wandered
for weeks each mile between the farm
and town, that you nearly gave up at fifty,
but continued until you were well
into the nineties. When you found one-
hundred you could hardly hold him
your fingers falling angels. We know
you waited with them, for hours at a time,
hoping maybe the miracle would take
a day, or two, or a week more, as long as
you believed, but with time all boys stop
believing. The week before you found them
again, you forgot them entirely, left them
waiting for you, counting the minutes, the days,
the lifetimes until you returned.

Grandfather Says | Ai

“Grandfather Says”

“Sit in my hand.”
I’m ten.
I can’t see him,
but I hear him breathing
in the dark.
It’s after dinner playtime.
We’re outside,
hidden by trees and shrubbery.
He calls it hide-and-seek,
but only my little sister seeks us
as we hide
and she can’t find us,
as grandfather picks me up
and rubs his hands between my legs.
I only feel a vague stirring
at the edge of my consciousness.
I don’t know what it is,
but I like it.
It gives me pleasure
that I can’t identify.
It’s not like eating candy,
but it’s just as bad,
because I had to lie to grandmother
when she asked,
“What do you do out there?”
“Where?” I answered.
Then I said, “Oh, play hide-and-seek.”
She looked hard at me,
then she said, “That was the last time.
I’m stopping that game.”
So it ended and I forgot.
Ten years passed, thirtyfive,
when I began to reconstruct the past.
When I asked myself
why I was attracted to men who disgusted me
I traveled back through time
to the dark and heavy breathing part of my life
I thought was gone,
but it had only sunk from view
into the quicksand of my mind.
It was pulling me down
and there I found grandfather waiting,
his hand outstretched to lift me up,
naked and wet
where he rubbed me.
“I’ll do anything for you," he whispered,
“but let you go.”
And I cried, “Yes," then “No.”
“I don’t understand how you can do this to me.
I’m only ten years old,"
and he said, “That’s old enough to know.”
“Of Three Or Four In The Room”
Yehuda Amichai

Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Forced to see the injustice amongst the thorns,
The fires on the hills.
And people who left whole
Are brought home in the evening, like small change.
Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Hair dark above his thoughts.
Behind him, the words, wandering, without luggage,
Hearts without provision, prophecies without water
Big stones put there
Standing, closed like letters
With no addresses; and no one to receive them.


poetry, exceptindreams
a poem some days

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