A Poem Thread

And death shall have no dominion

Dylan Thomas
1914 –1953

"And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion."
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Revised down to 32 lines (among other changes), which better accommodates the animated GIF for next month.
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The Creeping Trumpet Vine (2024 version)

This twilight is unpleasant.
Rising for a steeper decline.
Guess you're my next to final present
from the creeping Trumpet Vine.

Grateful you made the journey.
How's life after glancing down?
Whether ledge or on a morgue gurney,
we're pushed by the family clown.

Step out to the veranda.
I'll get my tall cocktail of pills.
We'll listen to wild propaganda:
that earthy breeze through daffodils.

Clouds of starlings have drifted.
Your shadowland seems far behind.
Somehow knew that it had been gifted
by the creeping Trumpet Vine.

You're such a patient figment.
Wings akimbo like a swan.
Imagination lacks commitment
to keep a long-lost seraph gone.

Nine months of tribulation.
Several years that were benign.
Then rain was copped and sunshine taken
for the creeping Trumpet Vine.

Visit more, we'll stay in touch.
You've not aged since breathing was free.
Sorry if I quizzed, inquired too much,
about your ill reality.

Many scapegoats to relive.
So I surely should not malign.
But there's always a symbol to give
to the creeping Trumpet Vine.

"Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes
more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am."
-- Rilke

Nobody can be lesser.
Privilege is a "Yes, sir".
Nature is an oppressor.
Science is a suppressor.
The West is an aggressor.
A property possessor.
Get yourself an assessor.
Competition a stressor.
Merits are a depressor.
Please beg to your confessor.
Who will be your successor?
Humanities professor.

Naomi Shihab Nye, 1998

Because the eye has a short shadow or
it is hard to see over heads in the crowd?

If everyone else seems smarter
but you need your own secret?

If mystery was never your friend?

If one way could satisfy
the infinite heart of the heavens?

If you liked the king on his golden throne
more than the villagers carrying baskets of lemons?

If you wanted to be sure
his guards would admit you to the party?

The boy with the broken pencil
scrapes his little knife against the lead
turning and turning it as a point
emerges from the wood again

If he would believe his life is like that
he would not follow his father into war​

Black Momma Math
by Kimberly Jae, 2020

If a jar of jelly is $2.98
& a loaf of Hawaiian bread is $4
Then how much bail money will I need when I kill everyone in my house
for eating all the bread
and jelly in 5 minutes?

Black Momma Math
If Black Momma has a two 17-year-old Black Boys
What is the probability that they will come home in a body bag in the next 5 years?
If Son A leaves Ferguson at 3pm traveling at 60 miles per hour and Son B leaves Baltimore at 5pm traveling at 50 miles per hour
to drive to Florida,
what time and which morgue
will their bodies be delivered to
when their music and Black Boy Joy inspire a stand your ground tango?
Better yet,
what is the cost of a funeral times 2 if a police officer pulls them over?
If 6 out of 10 people have math anxiety,
Then how many Black women out of 10 have murdered baby anxiety?

Everyone says Black women can't math
But we have been Black Momma mathing since the beginning of time
They have been long divisioning us since Africa become too valuable to keep as a whole
We've been reduced like fractions
Told we're not equivalent
Compared to and found wanting against each other
even though we have the same common denominator
We get broken down like quadratic equations
Our squared roots have been cut in half
Our ancestral variables are left unknown
We're always solving for the y
If distance equals rates times time
And the rate of Blacks killed by cops is 9x more than everyone else
Then how distant are we from legalized lynching?

Black women are educated
But being Black Momma provides a more specialized education
Black Momma Philosophy
If I let my son play outside with a toy gun and there are no news camera around to see it,
when the police shoot him
is it murder or self-defense?
We already know which harsh truths everyone ignores until someone not Black validates us
Is it possible that some people are just genetically predisposed to hate?
How free is our will if our fate is decided by our melanin
What is the meaning of Black lives when so many people don't think we matter?

Black Momma Math
If a jar of jelly is $2.98
& a loaf of Hawaiian bread is $4
But I'm too scared to let my babies go to the grocery store
What is the probability that I am just delaying the inevitable?

Savage, or Thoughts on Reincarnation
by Mandy Moe Pwint Tu, 2024

I want to believe I'm on my last life.
What is nirvana if not a kind of death?
In a past life, a stranger asked the Buddha
for his children. The Buddha offered him his eyes.
Then, pulling the children, screaming,
from the shivering rice barrels, he gave them
away. Did the children ever forgive him?
Did they have to because he was the Buddha?
I stay awake, listening to my brother's breath
as he sleeps in my corridor. A 6 am flight,
a half-hug in the parking lot. I want one more life.
This is the problem with reincarnation:
you don't know if what you've lost
is lost forever. Unless, I guess, you're the Buddha.
His children escaped, by the way. Hid from
their possessor in the cane grass, the silk reeds,
and wove their way back home. I think
they hugged their mother. I think the Buddha
demanded understanding. I had to, he likely said.
I wonder who they became in their next life.
I wonder if the siblings stayed together,
across this ever-shortening thread, never striving
for nirvana because to achieve it would mean
a kind of forsaking. And they learned—
learned too young that fathers aren't
to be trusted. In each life, the same
karmic cycle. Silk reeds become waves
become veranda floors. Then: the learned
leaving. My brother and I are always
looking for the ones left behind,
even as we're leaving. Don't worry.
The Buddha is not the forgiving kind.
We don't care to be forgiven.

"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."
- Dawna Markova
"I love these raw moist dawns with
a thousand birds you hear but can't
quite see in the mist.
My old alien body is a foreigner
struggling to get into another country.
The loon call makes me shiver.
Back at the cabin I see a book
and am not quite sure what that is."
-- Jim Harrison

by Franny Choi

"To answer your question, yes,

I find myself wanting less and less

to fuck the dead boy who was mine

before he was nothing.

He is nine years younger than me now—a boy

who still smokes blunts in his dorm room,

by which I mean he does none of that

because he is dead. Because his body

is no body now, but wet earth.

Meaning I should instead desire

the bellies of flies. Moth wings

unfolding wet from their shells.

Should hunger for the fish that ate

the fish that ate the plankton

that took his once-body dust

into its gullet. The boy whose body

was the first to enter mine is breathing

from too many mouths now.

He is gilled, wet leaves, coral,

all things that live but don’t know it,

don’t know they were once a boy

who peeled off my wet jeans,

kissed the insides of my knees

in his parents’ house, who came to me

love-addled one night, saying,

listen no matter listen

always i’ll never"
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"Even this late it happens:
the coming of love,
the coming of light.
You wake and the candles
are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather,
dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets
of air.

Even this late the bones
of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares
into breath."

Mark Strand, The Coming of Light
"I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you."

Walt Whitman
The End


"Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end."
“In the Country of Resurrection,” Ada Limón

"Last night we killed a possum,
out of mercy, in the middle of the road.

It was dying, its face was bloody,
the back legs were shattered. The mistake

I made was getting out of the car
(you told me not to), but I wanted to be

sure, needed to know for sure, that it could
not be saved. (Someone else had hit it.)

The sound it was making. The sound
folded me back into the airless car.

Do it, do it fast, I lowered my head
until the thud was done. You killed it quiet.

We drove home under the sickle moon,
laundry gone cold and dry on the line.

But that was last night. This morning
the sun is coming alive in the kitchen.

You’ve gone to get us gas station coffee
and there is so much life all over the place."
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What the Living Do
By Marie Howe

"Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up.

We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:

I am living. I remember you."
"My Papa's Waltz"

By Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt"

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Last year, Kim Lachance set Emily Dickinson's poem to music (video at bottom).

Critique: "I'm Nobody!" is one of Dickinson's most popular poems, Harold Bloom writes, because it addresses “a universal feeling of being on the outside." It is a poem about "us against them"; it challenges authority (the somebodies), and "seduces the reader into complicity with its writer."

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

video link --> Two Bad Bricks: "I'm Nobody"
“darkness falls upon Humanity
and faces become terrible
that wanted more than there

all our days are marked with
affronts - some
disastrous, others
less so
but the process is
wearing and
attrition rules.
most give
empty spaces
where people should

and now
as we ready to self-destruct
there is very little left to

which makes the tragedy
less and more
much much
― Charles Bukowski, You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense