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Bon Ton day

By strange coincidence, the word of the day at AWAD is “bon ton.” So if you’ve always wanted to know what it meant, there you go. It’s Bon Ton day! Let’s celebrate it my way: virtual unicorn tapestry cake and poetry.

Almost Blue
by Mark Doty

Chet Baker, 1929-1988

If Hart Crane played trumpet
he’d sound like you, your horn’s dark city

miraculous and broken over and over,
scale-shimmered, every harbor-flung hour

and salt-span of cabled longing,
every waterfront, the night-lovers’ rendezvous.

This is the entrance
to the city of you, sleep’s hellgate,

and two weeks before the casual relinquishment
of your hold — light needling

on the canal’s gleaming haze
and the buds blaring like horns —

two weeks before the end, Chet,
and you’re playing like anything,

singing stay little valentine

and taking so long there are worlds sinking
between the notes, this exhalation

no longer a voice but a rush of air,
brutal, from the tunnels under the river,

the barges’ late whistles you only hear
when the traffic’s stilled

by snow, a city hushed and
distilled into one rush of breath,

yours, into the microphone
and the ear of that girl

in the leopard-print scarf,
one long kiss begun on the highway

and carried on dangerously,
the Thunderbird veering

on the coast road: glamor
of a perfectly splayed fender,

dazzling lipstick, a little pearl of junk,
some stretch of road breathless

and traveled into … Whoever she is
she’s the other coast of you,

and just beyond the bridge into the city’s
long amalgam of ardor and indifference

is lit like a votive
then blown out. Too many rooms unrented

in this residential hotel,
and you don’t want to know

why they’re making that noise in the hall;
you’re going to wake up in any one of the

how many ten thousand
locations of trouble and longing

going out of business forever everything must go
wake up and start wanting.

It’s so much better when you don’t want:
nothing falls then, nothing lost

but sleep and who wanted that
in the pearl this suspended world is,

in the warm suspension and glaze
of this song everything stays up

almost forever in the long
glide sung into the vein,

one note held almost impossibly
almost blue and the lyric takes so long

to open, a little blood
blooming: there’s no love song finer

but how strange the change
from major to minor

every time
we say goodbye

and you leaning into that warm
haze from the window, Amsterdam,

late afternoon glimmer
a blur of buds

breathing in the lindens
and you let go and why not


Chet Baker — My Funny Valentine

Annie Lennox — Every Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)

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[I don’t really like this song by Ra Ra Riot. However, the chorus is excellent, because it was written by a bawdy & brash young man by the name of e.e. cummings. Therefore I felt I shouldn’t pass up the chance to link the two together. Call it a postmodern public service.

For those confused, cummings is differentiating between dying, which is perfectly natural (and “lively”) and Death, the cold and evil legal creation which presumably has lots of paperwork and involves purchasing the most expensive airtight coffin in the catalog. –ed.]

dying is fine)but Death
by: e.e. cummings

dying is fine)but Death


wouldn’t like

Death if Death

when(instead of stopping to think)you

begin to feel of it,dying
‘s miraculous

cause dying is

perfectly natural;perfectly
it mildly lively(but


is strictly
& artificial &

evil & legal)

we thank thee
almighty for dying
(forgive us,o life!the sin of Death


Ra Ra Riot — Dying Is Fine

The Decemberists — Little Boxes

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[ed note — I haven’t been posting poetry because of a discussion I had with someone about posting poetry being a violation of copyright. Yes, cue the ironic eyebrow. But I’m pretty sure this sonnet is in the public domain. :D I’m reading The Making Of the Sonnet, edited by Eavan Boland and Edward Hirsch. It’s highly recommended.]

from Romeo and Juliet, act 1, scene v.
by William Shakespeare

ROMEO    If I profane with my unworthiest hand
              This holy shrine, the gentler sin is this:
               My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
              To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
JULIET    Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
               Which mannerly devotion shows in this.
               For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
               And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
ROMEO   Have not saints lips, and holy palmers, too?
JULIET    Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
ROMEO    O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do:
              They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
JULIET    Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
ROMEO    Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.


Prototypes — Un Gars Fragile

KD Lang — The Consequences Of Falling

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Faure’s Second Piano Quartet
by James Schuyler

On a day like this the rain comes
down in fat and random drops among
the ailanthus leaves—“the tree
of Heaven”—the leaves that on moon-
lit nights shimmer black and blade-
shaped at this third-floor window.
And there are bunches of small green
knobs, buds, crowded together. The
rapid music fills in the spaces of
the leaves. And the piano comes in,
like an extra heartbeat, dangerous
and lovely. Slower now, less like
the leaves, more like the rain which
almost isn’t rain, more like thawed-
out hail. All this beauty in the
mess of this small apartment on
West 20th in Chelsea, New York.
Slowly the notes pour out, slowly,
more slowly still, fat rain falls.

Gabriel Fauré — Piano Quartet No. 2 In G Minor, Op. 45: Allegro Molto (played by the Ames Piano Quartet)
[ed. note — may not be the version Schuyler was listening to — there are many — but enough for a taste.]

George Handy — Blinuet

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So … people are like … at some festival in Texas? Ya got me. Thanks to Muruch for this one, as I picked out the poem to go with the song instead of the other way ’round.

Love rode 1500 miles
by Judy Grahn

Love rode 1500 miles on a grey
hound bus & climbed in my window
one night to surprise
both of us.
the pleasure of that sleepy
shock has lasted a decade
now or more because she is
always still doing it and I am
always still pleased. I do indeed like
aggressive women
who come half a continent
just for me; I am not saying that patience
is virtuous, Love
like anybody else, comes to those who
wait actively
and leave their windows open.


the Felice Brothers — Wonderful Life

Haley Bonar — Us

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The Sound
by Kim Addonizio

Marc says the suffering that we don’t see
still makes a sort of sound — a subtle, soft
noise, nothing like the cries of screams that we
might think of — more the slight scrape of a hat doffed
by a quiet man, ignored as he stands back
to let a lovely woman pass, her dress
just brushing his coat. Or else it’s like a crack
in an old foundation, slowly widening, the stress
and slippage going on unnoticed by
the family upstairs, the daughter leaving
for a date, her mother’s resigned sigh
when she sees her. It’s like the heaving
of a stone into a lake, before it drops.
It’s shy, it’s barely there. It never stops.


The New Amsterdams — Change My Mind

Regina Spektor — The Noise

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The Kid
by Ai

My sister rubs the doll’s face in mud,
then climbs through the truck window.
She ignores me as I walk around it,
hitting the flat tires with an iron rod.
The old man yells for me to help hitch the team,
but I keep walking around the truck, hitting harder,
until my mother calls.
I pick up a rock and throw it at the kitchen window,
but it falls short.
The old man’s voice bounces off the air like a ball
I can’t lift my leg over.

I stand beside him, waiting, but he doesn’t look up
and I squeeze the rod, raise it, his skull splits open.
Mother runs toward us. I stand still,
get her across the spine as she bends over him.
I drop the rod and take the rifle from the house.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
one bullet for the black horse, two for the brown.
They’re down quick. I spit, my tongue’s bloody;
I’ve bitten it. I laugh, remember the one out back.
I catch her climbing from the truck, shoot.
The doll lands on the ground with her.
I pick it up, rock it in my arms.
Yeah. I’m Jack, Hogarth’s son.
I’m nimble, I’m quick.
In the house, I put on the old man’s best suit
and his patent leather shoes.
I pack my mother’s satin nightgown
and my sister’s doll in the suitcase.
Then I go outside and cross the fields to the highway.
I’m fourteen. I’m a wind from nowhere.
I can break your heart.

The Mountain Goats — Young Caesar 2000

Dean Gray — Novocaine Rhapsody (Green Day vs. Queen)

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(I guess blogsarefordogs’ short-story-posting feature is out of commission for awhile. So poetry resumes when I remember to do it. –ed)

Wordsworth’s Skates
by Seamus Heaney

Star in the window.
                                  Slate scrape.
                                                           Bird or branch?
Or the whet and scud of steel on placid ice?

Not the bootless runners lying toppled
In dust in a display case,
Their bindings perished,

But the reel of them on frozen Windermere
As he flashed from the clutch of earth along its curve
And left it scored.

Bjork — The Modern Things

My Brightest Diamond — We Were Sparkling

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Last Straw
by George Starbuck



Bishop Allen — The History Of Excuses

Iron & Wine — Flightless Bird, American Mouth

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AE Housman

The half-moon westers low, my love,
And the wind brings up the rain;
And wide apart lie we, my love,
And seas between the twain.

I know not if it rains, my love,
In the land where you do lie;
And oh, so sound you sleep, my love,
You know no more than I.

Colin Meloy — Eli, the Barrow Boy (live, the Zoo, Seattle WA — 8.10.05)

Flogging Molly — Far Away, Boys

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by Maxine Kumin

And suppose the darlings get to Mantua,
suppose they cheat the crypt, what next? Begin
with him, unshaven. Though not, I grant you, a
displeasing cockerel, there’s egg yolk on his chin.
His seedy robe’s aflap, he’s got the rheum.
Poor dear, the cooking lard has smoked her eyes.
Another Montague is in the womb
although the first babe’s bottom’s not yet dry.
She scrolls a weekly letter to her Nurse
who dares to send a smock through Balthasar,
and once a month, his father posts a purse.
News from Verona? Always news of war.
   Such sour years it takes to right this wrong!
   The fifth act runs unconscionably long.


The New Amsterdams — Adeline, Out Of Tune

The Carpenters — All You Get From Love Is A Love Song

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A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all

over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.


REM — Crush With Eyeliner

Lightnin’ Hopkins — You’re Too Fast

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Wild nights—wild nights!
by Emily Dickinson

Wild nights—wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port—
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden—
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor, tonight,
In thee!


Nelly Furtado — Somebody To Love

Air — Napalm Love

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The Prisoners Of Saint Lawrence
by Martín Espada

Riverview Correctional Facility,
Ogdensburg, New York, 1993

Snow astonishing their hammered faces,
the prisoners of Saint Lawrence, island men,
remember in Spanish the island places.

The Saint Lawrence River churns white into Canada, races
past barbed walls. Immigrants from a dark sea find oceanic
snow astonishing. Their hammered faces

harden in city jails and courthouses, indigent cases
telling translators, public defenders what they
remember in Spanish. The island places,

banana leaf and nervous chickens, graces
gone in this amnesia of snow, stinging cocaine
snow, astonishing their hammered faces.

There is snow in the silence of the waiting room, spaces
like snow in the paper of their poems and letters, that
remember in Spanish the island places.

So the law speaks of cocaine, grams and traces,
as the prisoners of Saint Lawrence, island men,
snow astonishing their hammered faces,
remember in Spanish the island places.


Amadou & Mariam — La Paix

Ladyfinger (ne) — Smuggler

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“Where Any Of Us”
by Maxine Kumin
(Ploughshares, winter 2004-5)

Where any of us is
going in tomorrow’s reckless Lexus is
the elemental mystery: despite

instructions he left behind, Houdin-
i, who could outwit
ropes and chains, padlocks and steam-

er trunks, could extricate
himself from underwater metal crates,
could send forth, he was certain,

a message from the other side,
never cracked the curtain
and Mary Baker Eddy’s telephone

said to be hooked up in her crypt —
would it have been
innocence or arrogance,

such trust in the beyond? —
has, mythic, failed to ring. If
they knew the script

these two (God may be love
or not) they left, tightlipped
and unfulfilled.

As we will.


The Postmarks – You Drift Away

Tom McRae – Border Song

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So seriously, I am in love with Blogs Are For Dogs and Josh’s Short Story Saturday. This week’s story was “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by DH Lawrence, which can, of course, be found in the Norton Anthology of something or other. I remember reading it in one of my undergrad classes. Lawrence was a shocking fellow in his time, but now he and Lance Bass could run off together and no one would think anything about it. But don’t think about it that way, or all the frustrated lust will just drain right out of Lawrence’s prose.

At any rate! A few of my faithful readers know what I majored in — let me enlighten the rest of you. Poetry. Yep … I got an MA in creative writing and contemporary American poetry. Yes, I’ll wait while you break out the “you want fries with that” joke. I can write rings around ya, buddy, but you’re right, it’s not marketable. If I had to go back and do it again, I would become an occupational therapist so I could help my son. However, at the time I had no children and no real expectation of them, and so I did what I loved. I wrote thirty poems for my thesis… it took about two years. But I loved graduate school.

All this is a long way of saying that whenever Josh’s short story comes up on my RSS reader, it will remind me to post a poem (not one of mine, don’t worry, and a short one). And I’ll include a song. Dessert after you eat your peas, right? Not really, cause I’m not there to look over your shoulder. Just eat your damn peas. They’re good for you. Don’t make me come over there.

Bricklayer Love
by Carl Sandburg

I thought of killing myself because I am only a bricklayer
and you a woman who loves the man who runs a drug store.

I don’t care like I used to; I lay bricks straighter than I
used to and I sing slower handling the trowel afternoons.

When the sun is in my eyes and the ladders are shaky and the
mortar boards go wrong, I think of you.


The Be Good Tanyas – Rowdy Blues

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