carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When you are lost, move slowly.
Stop at corners with no stop signs and look in all directions before you proceed
(with caution).
Read every word you see:
names on mailboxes,
license plates and unfamiliar, made-up sounding streets names,
signs: FOR SALE,

Pause to look at the weeds growing in yards of heat-killed grass,
at window boxes of stagnant flowers,
at fences conquered by varieties of ivy you will never see again.
Memorize the strange shade of the cement and its peculiar cracks.

Listen to the not-quite-tuneless music coming from inside houses that could almost be the houses in your own neighborhood.
Speak to yipping dogs tied to front porches you might have sat on, if your life had turned out differently.
Watch bedraggled children running in shrieking play, broken toys in their hands.
The sun slants down from a strange direction. This is not your world.
You are only moving through it, off-kilter; a detour, as you try to find your way home.

New poem

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 04:33 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
The Death of God

And then the moment comes.
You see it happen: darkness at noon, just as it says in the Bible—
only it's just another summer thunderstorm.
The world trembles
slides silently away.
You have become alone—
ultimately, permanently, sui generis
(springing from no-one):
truly the only child.

You finish your chicken&stars soup and play another game of solitaire, wondering why there is no fanfare
only rain.

But it always rains when the world ends, the thunder coming to soothe you.

Released from your obligation to worship and attend, you have more time to wander aimlessly and stay up too late.
All of your mistakes belong only to you now and no-one gets a say.
Your life is your own and you have no idea how to do this.
You are standing on the horizon—that mythical point where the future drops off into its own infinity. If you look down you can see straight through to nowhere.

It would be exhilarating—
if you could feel anything
if you weren't numb from all the years of feeling too much
if you didn't keep falling asleep.

You pick up socks to wash and cat food cans to throw away, brush your teeth and set the alarm, buy food you will forget to eat, write notes to thank people for their notes of condolence:
yes, she was a wonderful person,
yes, it was time,
yes, she will be missed.

You do not tell them what a relief it is.
You do not tell them that you don't go to that church anymore.
You do not tell them you don't care that you will never get your wings.

You can fly without them.

New poem

Monday, 8 August 2016 09:40 am
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
Individually Developed Goals

I am a library clerk.

You've never seen me;
I've never checked in your books or
helped you find an encyclopedia* or
directed you to the restroom.

I work behind the scenes in a closed building where all the new material comes in.
The specifics of my job are a long list of small, tedious actions.
The pocket in the back of the book you're reading?
I put that there.
Also, the call number on the spine,
the barcode that connects this book to the bibliographic record,
the sticker that tells you our library system owns the book,
the sticker that tells you what date we purchased the book,
the sticker that tells you the author once spoke here,
the sticker that tells you the author is of a particular ethnicity,
the sticker that tells you that in the distant past we also used this sticker for reasons now lost to time.

I looked at the book's pages, to be sure none of them were upside down or in Chinese.
(Unless the book you're reading is in Chinese. I do those books, too.)
I don't examine each page individually; I flip through,
like a flip-book
only without the pictures.
That is how small my job is: my flip-books don't have pictures.

I put a plastic jacket on the paper dust jacket and taped it down.
I fed each barcode under the scanner:
once to add it
once to count it
once to change it
once to send it on its way.
I stacked the books neatly, spines facing in, spines facing out.
(When books all face the same way, the stacks become unbalanced and tip over. Trust me, I'm a professional; I know the structural engineering behind book-stacking.)
I put the books into boxes that I've tagged, to send them to the many branches in our system.

I will never be on the cover of a magazine because the call number on the spine of the book you hold is straight and well-aligned.
I will never be given an award for how many books have pockets now that didn't have them before they came to me.
(I have gotten recognition for having worked here more than half my life, but that wasn't an award. Though they did give me a little money.)

I am a tiny cog in a large, important machine.
My small job, made up of small things—a tiny puzzle, a miniscule mosaic—
is the kind of job I prefer,
though it confers the opposite of reflected glory: my job absorbs insignificance.
I don't care much about that,
though more money—enough to live on—would be nice.
Much of my brain cants Irish.
A job that leaves some of my mind free to wander:
writing poetry, or planning dinner,
or having conversations with imaginary people,
or the dead,
is perfect for me.
And important people considering me unimportant is part of my heritage.
I wouldn't do well with them thinking well of me.
I could live happily in my discontent
—with my vague resentment, indulging in the occasional need to rabble-rouse—
if only the important people would content themselves with being important, and doing their important things:
waving from balconies and slow-moving cars;
speaking on stages to other important people;
sitting in spacious offices looking out high windows;
being photographed waving from balconies and slow moving cars and speaking on stages to other important people and sitting in spacious offices looking out high windows.

But they don't do that—content themselves, I mean.
They insist on helping me rise above my small job.
I must grow!
Become an important person!
(Though never, ever as important as they.)
They try to foist off on me imaginary responsibilities:
I have to Select an Area [of myself] to Develop
and come up with Development Actions,
although I have neither the authority to act autonomously
nor the time.
I have quotas to meet.
I'm busy counting books and moving them from one place to another.
I do not have time to gaze at my navel while wondering if I'm being all I can be.
They have never wanted my entire individual self as-is, why would I assume they want an enhanced me? They want the part of me that does the job. They want the cog.
And yet they require me to take classes I don't need for jobs I don't do,
to evaluate my efforts which they then dismiss as unsatisfactory—and then they complain that I'm not meeting my quota.
Someone took the Beatles too literally:
there are not eight days in a week.

So I make things up.
I smile in enthusiasm so fake it must be real.
I pretend I'm somewhere else, and when they speak, I scribble free-association on scraps of paper that self-immolates with my fury.
I have been here a long, long time, so I know I only have to hold my head above the incoming tide until it recedes.
The Employee Self-Improvement fad will be replaced by an Employees Remembering Their Places craze, followed by a Voluntary Vow of Silence rage.

I know, because I've seen it before.

*A kind of reference book that used to flourish in libraries--and homes--all across the country. This species is on the endangered list.

Everything old is old again.

Stroke of wings

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 04:11 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When I found her, she was in a cage
smaller even than the one she had accustomed herself to.
Lead weights entrapped her fragile ankles and chicken wire bound her broken wings—
but still, somehow, she had fluttered to the window
where she perched, looking out with wide, enraptured eyes.

Years before, the sun had burned away all but the voices in her head; now
the moon had stolen her voice.

She would never sing again.

She didn't know me anymore
but the lovely summer day outside enchanted her.

An entire solar system couldn't take that from her.

Perhaps, in her own mind, she flew.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016 10:39 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
Into love and out again,
Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen—
Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
All the words were ever said;
Could it be, when I was young,
Some one dropped me on my head?

—Dorothy Parker


Monday, 16 May 2016 10:01 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

—Dorothy Parker

The Veteran

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 03:39 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
"Come out, you dogs, and fight!" said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say, "The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won—
The difference is small, my son."

Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called Philosophy.

—Dorothy Parker

Results Ridiculous

Thursday, 28 April 2016 10:48 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
("Humourists have amused themselves by translating famous sonnets into free verse. A result no less ridiculous would have been obtained if somebody had re-written a passage from 'Paradise Lost' as a rondeau." —George Soule in the New Republic)


Sing, Heavenly Muse, in lines that flow
More smoothly than the wandering Po,
Of man's descending from the height
Of Heaven itself, the blue, the bright,
To Hell's unutterable throe.

Of sin original and the woe
That fell upon us here below
From man's pomonic primal bite—
Sing, Heavenly Muse!

Of summer sun, of winter snow, Of future days, of long ago,
Of morning and "the shades of night,"
Of woman, "my ever new delight,"
Go to it, Muse, and put us Joe—
Sing, Heavenly Muse!

* * * * *


THE wedding guest sat on a stone,
He could not chose but hear
The mariner. They were there alone.
The wedding guest sat on a stone.
"I'll read you something of my own,"
Declared that mariner.
The wedding guest sat on a stone—
He could not chose but hear.

Franklin P. Adams

Lines on and from

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 10:45 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
("Sir: For the first time in twenty-three years 'Bartlett's Familiar Quotations' has been revised and enlarged, and under a separate cover we are sending you a copy of the new edition. We would appreciate an expression of opinion from you of the value of this work after you have had an ample opportunity of examining it." —THE PUBLISHERS)

Of making many books there is no end—
So Sancho Panza said, and so say I.
Thou wert my guide, philosopher and friend
When only one is shining in the sky.

Books cannot always please, however good;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
To be great is to be misunderstood,
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans.

The Moving Finger writes, and having writ,
I never write as funny as I can.
Remote, unfriendly, studious let me sit
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

Go, lovely Rose, that lives its little hour!
Go, little booke! and let who will be clever!
Roll on! From yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moon and I could keep this up forever.

Franklin P. Adams

Now At Liberty

Monday, 11 April 2016 11:10 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
Dorothy Parker

Little white love, your way you've taken;
Now I am left alone, alone.
Little white love, my heart's forsaken.
(Whom shall I get by telephone?)
Well do I know there's no returning;
Once you go out, it's done, it's done.
All of my days are gray with yearning.
(Nevertheless, a girl needs fun.)

Little white love, perplexed and weary,
Sadly your banner fluttered down.
Sullen the days, and dreary, dreary.
(Which of the boys is still in town?)
Radiant and sure, you came a-flying;
Puzzled, you left on lagging feet.
Slow in my breast, my heart is dying.
(Nevertheless, a girl must eat.)

Little white love, I hailed you gladly;
Now I must wave you out of sight.
Ah, but you used me badly, badly.
(Who'd like to take me out tonight?)
All of the blundering words I've spoken,
Little white love, forgive, forgive.
Once you went out, my heart fell, broken.
(Nevertheless, a girl must live.)
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
I was seventy-seven, come August,
I shall shortly be losing my bloom;
I've experienced zephyr and raw gust
And (symbolical) flood and simoom.

When you come to this time of abatement,
To this passing from Summer to Fall,
It is manners to issue a statement
As to what you got out of it all.

So I'll say, though reflection unnerves me
And pronouncements I dodge as I can,
That I think (if my memory serves me)
There was nothing more fun than a man!

In my youth, when the crescent was too wan
To embarrass with beams from above,
By the aid of some local Don Juan
I fell into the habit of love.

And I learned how to kiss and be merry- an
Education left better unsung.
My neglect of the waters Pierian
Was a scandal, when Grandma was young.

Though the shabby unbalanced the splendid,
And the bitter outmeasured the sweet,
I should certainly do as I then did,
Were I given the chance to repeat.

For contrition is hollow and wraithful,
And regret is no part of my plan,
And I think (if my memory's faithful)
There was nothing more fun than a man!

--Dorothy Parker
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
"Actually, It Was Incredible. It Was Primal. I Mean In The Animal, Not The Numerical Sense."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I have successfully written in three areas in my life: poetry, fiction, and essays. (Actually, I've also written a couple of plays, but for the purposes of this I'd file those under the fiction heading. I don't see myself writing fiction anymore.)

I've always known the poetry came from a different place from other things I write because unlike fiction or essays, I can't just sit down and write a poem. But this morning I realized that the essays and fiction come from different places, too. Metaphorically, if the poetry comes from my soul, the essays come from my brain and the fiction comes from my heart. Or maybe what I mean is that these forms are expressions of those parts of me.

Let's start with poetry.

I've written poetry since grade school. I'm sure it rhymed, and I'm sure it was mediocre at best. I wrote poems for school assignments and I wrote them for myself—I wrote a lot of heartbroken poems in high school—but I never let them expose me the way a good poem has to. It isn't talent that makes a poem, it's truth. (The talent's necessary to make the poem readable, but if you're not going to tell the truth, reading it is just a waste of time.)

Then in 1999, I had a pretty serious hypomanic episode and everything changed. I wrote feverishly and honestly, I wrote everything I was feeling and didn't care what anyone thought. I tapped something in myself—something in my soul—and I've been writing from there ever since. With only a few exceptions, poetry comes from a place of emotional chaos; it brings order.

The thing I love about poetry is that it's the language of metaphor, deflection, and distance. When you can't say the real words, metonymy can save you. Take two steps back from the thing that's trying to kill you—grief, shame, depression, anxiety—call it by another name, and tell the truth about it.

It's nice that people like my poetry. What I really like is that people who don't normally like poetry seem to like it, and that it seems to resonate with people. It's a lovely feeling, knowing your words are useful to other people. Helping people articulate their confused emotions is one of the best things art does.

But even if that wasn't happening now, I'd still write poetry because I believe that if anything I write will live after me, it will be the poems.

*Dr. Larry Fleinhardt
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
How do you tackle your work each day?
Are you scared of the job you find?
Do you grapple the task that comes your way
With a confident, easy mind?
Do you stand right up to the work ahead
Or fearfully pause to view it?
Do you start to toil with a sense of dread?
Or feel that you're going to do it?

You can do as much as you think you can,
But you'll never accomplish more;
If you're afraid of yourself, young man,
There's little for you in store.
For failure comes from the inside first,
It's there if we only knew it,
And you can win, though you face the worst,
If you feel that you're going to do it.

Success! It's found in the soul of you,
And not in the realm of luck!
The world will furnish the work to do,
But you must provide the pluck.
You can do whatever you think you can,
It's all in the way you view it.
It's all in the start you make, young man:
You must feel that you're going to do it.

How do you tackle your work each day?
With confidence clear, or dread?
What to yourself do you stop and say
When a new task lies ahead?
What is the thought that is in your mind?
Is fear ever running through it?
If so, just tackle the next you find
By thinking you're going to do it.

—From "A Heap o' Livin'," by Edgar A. Guest

I tackle my terrible job each day
With a fear that is well defined;
And I grapple the task that comes my way
With no confidence in my mind.
I try to evade the work ahead,
As I fearfully pause to view it,
And I start to toil with a sense of dread,
And doubt that I'm going to do it.

I can't do as much as I think I can,
And I never accomplish more.
I am scared to death of myself, old man,
As I may have observed before.
I've read the proverbs of Charley Schwab,
Carnegie, and Marvin Hughitt;
But whenever I tackle a difficult job,
O gosh! I hate to do it!

I try to believe in my vaunted power
With that confident kind of bluff,
But somebody tells me The Conning Tower
Is nothing but awful stuff.
And I take up my impotent pen that night,
And idly and sadly chew it,
As I try to write something merry and bright,
And I know that I shall not do it.

And that's how I tackle my work each day—
With terror and fear and dread—
And all I can see is a long array
Of empty columns ahead.
And those are the thoughts that are in my mind,
And that's about all there's to it.
As long as there's work, of whatever kind,
I'm certain I cannot do it.

Franklin P. Adams
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
I am not a writer.

I know this because I have been assured that what makes a writer is, writers write.

Writers write.

I post pictures, and poems by people no-one has ever heard of, and things I wrote years ago, to avoid writing. Writers write.

Writers write even when no-one reads the words. A real writer would write words that would live their lives in a drawer, never seen by anyone else.

A real writer would write in the sand, never despairing of the tide coming for the words.

Writers write.

A real writer can withstand any criticism.
A real writer develops a thick skin and feels no pain.
A real writer can endure the harshest edit.

I went to the library yesterday and there was an authors' fair: writers clumped together in a small meeting room with shiny displays of their books and bowls of candy to entice the unwary, the potential readers, depressed girls like me.

I was given a sheet to get stamped. A fully-stamped sheet would win me the opportunity to win a prize I don't remember.

Everyone was smiling, everyone was welcoming, everyone was enthusiastic. When asked, I told people my favorite kind of book is mysteries. I listened to what their books are about and feigned enthusiasm. I got my sheet stamped. I was given bookmarks and business cards and at one table, a small red bag with a bookmark and business card and small disposable package of kleenex.

I took a piece of chocolate. Hershey's Special Dark.

I made it halfway around the room, then I pretended to get a phone call. I had a heated imaginary conversation with my mother about where I was and when I would be home. I walked out of the small room, preoccupied with my imaginary difficult mother.

I escaped.

I sat in the car and read about Shirley Jackson and thought about how if I had to do this to sell a book, I would kill myself.

Which is all right, because I am not a real writer.
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
Franklin Pierce Adams

Jenny kissed me in a dream;
So did Elsie, Lucy, Cora,
Bessie, Gwendolyn, Eupheme,
Alice, Adelaide, and Dora.
Say of honour I'm devoid,
Say monogamy has miss'd me,
But don't say to Dr. Freud
Jenny kiss'd me.


Monday, 22 February 2016 08:03 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
by Dorothy Parker

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
by Franklin P. Adams

Oh, some may sing of the surging sea, or chant of the raging main;
Or tell of the taffrail blown away by the raging hurricane.
With an oh, of the feel of the salt sea spray as it stippls the guffy's cheek!
And oh, for the sob of the creaking mast and the halyard's aching squeak!
And some may sing of the galley-foist, and some of the quadrireme,
And some of the day when the xebec came and hit us abaft the beam.
Oh, some may sing of the girl in Kew that died for a sailor's love,
And some may sing of the surging sea, as I may have observed above.

Oh, some may long for the Open Road, or crave for the prairie breeze,
And some, o'er sick of the city's strain, may yearn for the whispering trees.
With an oh, for the rain to cool my face, and the wind to blow my hair!
And oh, for the trail to Joyous Garde, where I may find my fair!
And some may love to lie in the field in the stark and silent night,
The glistening dew for a coverlet and the moon and stars for light.
Let others sing of the soughing pines and the winds that rustle and roar,
And others long for the Open Road, as I may have remarked before.

Ay, some may sing of the bursting bomb and the screech of a screaming shell,
Or tell the tale of the cruel trench on the other side of hell.
And some may talk of the ten mile hike in the dead of a winter night,
And others chaunt of the doughtie Kyng with mickle valour dight.
And some may long for the song of a child and the lullaby's fairy charm,
And others yearn for the crack of the bat and the wind of the pitcher's arm.
Oh, some have longed for this and that, and others have craved and yearned;
And they all may sing of whatever they like, as far as I'm concerned.
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
by Franklin Pierce Adams

The songs I have to sing you
Might bear a lovelier tune;
The verbal rose I bring you
Might breathe a nearer June.

The verses that I make you
Might move in loftier rhyme;
The thrill of them might shake you
From now to the end of Time.

The fruits of mine endeavor
Might fall from a fairer bough —
All these might be. However,
I'm darned if I know how.


Monday, 1 February 2016 08:44 pm
carose59: the Algonquin Round table (by that time i was too famous)
by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Another FPA poem

Monday, 25 January 2016 07:15 pm
carose59: the Algonquin Round table (by that time i was too famous)
One thing FPA loved to do was rewrite a poem in the style of another poet. Here's one of my favorites.

Georgie Porgie


by Franklin Pierce Adams

Bennie's kisses left me cold,
Eddie's made me yearn to die,
Jimmie's made me laugh aloud,—
But Georgie's made me cry.

Bennie sees me every night,
Eddie sees me every day,
Jimmie sees me all the time,—
But Georgie stays away.

July 2017

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