Archive for the Poems by others Category

Palm Beach Poetry Festival and B.H. Fairchild

Posted in Poems by others, Poetry Seminars and Workshops on January 15, 2013 by paulscotaugust

I will be attending the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, January 21-26, 2013 in beautiful Delray Beach, Florida. Now besides the fact that I will be workshopping with the amazing B.H. Fairchild, which is in itself reason to travel across the country, and besides the fact that the faculty is off-the-charts amazing, it will also be 75 degrees. In January. For comparison, it is currently 25 degrees here in Milwaukee, and icy. So yeah, see you on the beach!

Festival Faculty includes: B.H. Fairchild, Terrance Hayes, Jane Hirshfield, Tony Hoagland, Laura Kasischke, Thomas Lux, Tracy K. Smith, Lisa Russ Spaar, Marty McConnell, Rives, and Special Guest, Billy Collins.

You can find more about The Palm Beach Poetry Festival here.

Here is the description of the workshop I will be attending:

In my poetry workshop participants will critique each other’s poems, followed by a critique from me. Participants should bring along four or five samples of their own work (one-page poems preferred). We will use work by master poets to illustrate and discuss certain matters of craft. I will also make a poetry assignment or two during the course of the week based on the issues raised during our meetings and discussions.

More about B.H. Fairchild can be found here

And here’s a favorite poem of mine by B.H. Fairchild:

Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest

In his fifth year the son, deep in the backseat
of his father’s Ford and the mysterium
of time, holds time in memory with words,
night, this night, on the way to a stalled rig south
of Kiowa Creek where the plains wind stacks
the skeletons of weeds on barbed-wire fences
and rattles the battered DeKalb sign to make
the child think of time in its passing, of death.

Cattle stare at flat-bed haulers gunning clumps
of black smoke and lugging damaged drill pipe
up the gullied, mud-hollowed road. Road, this
road. Roustabouts shouting from the crow’s nest
float like Ascension angels on a ring of lights.
Chokecherries gouge the purpled sky, cloud-
swags running the moon under, and starlight
rains across the Ford’s blue hood. Blue, this blue.

Later, where black flies haunt the mud tank,
the boy walks along the pipe rack dragging
a stick across the hollow ends to make a kind
of music, and the creek throbs with frog songs,
locusts, the rasp of tree limbs blown and scattered.
The great horse people, his father, these sounds,
these shapes saved from time’s dark creek as the car
moves across the moving earth: world, this world.


Robert Wrigley – Aubade

Posted in Poems by others on January 24, 2010 by paulscotaugust

I was first introduced to the poems of Robert Wrigley when Dorianne Laux used his poem Horseflies in our workshop as an example of a memorable poem that uses an amazing image and uses gorgeous, musical language. I eventually purchased his book this poem came from, Lives of the Animals, and have since purchased Moon in a Mason Jar, What my Father Believed, In the Bank of Beautiful Sins and Reign of Snakes. (Still looking for The Sinking of Clay City) The poem I have posted here is the first poem in his book In The Bank of Beautiful Sins, and stuck with me from the first reading. I was writing an Aubade at the time myself, and this poem is the way it should be done. Gorgeous, moving, sensuous, prayerful, musical. Many adjectives could describe it. Let me know what you think.


Sun-baked all day, the south-facing cliffs
breathe fire. The canyon air itself
can’t sleep, sheets beneath them
gone incrementally to musk, and the man
at last awakened alone, a train whistle
moaning upriver. Maybe the train’s
clank and ratchet brought her out first,
or the hope some breeze has happened,
not fire and water, the river’s ice, a clammy flank of air.
Whatever it was, now the moonlight’s made of her
a woman burnished by silver, leaned against the porch rail
and looking at the water through the almost-dark.
It’s me, he says from the doorway,
and she doesn’t turn, but opens
her stance, so that he might kneel
and crane his neck, and lick
along and up the sweet, salt seam
to her spine, her shoulders, her neck,
his hands a fingery wind along her arms,
down the fine column of ribs to the palm-fitted handles
her pelvic bones afford—
                                   Lord, he prays, if I have sworn
my loathing for the sun and cursed the salt
that blinds my eyes at work; if I have not slept
but have believed hell a canyon of basalt
a cold clear river taunts through; if I have turned,
scalded by this skin and the murk of damp bedding,
then wake me, wake me by whatever light is called for,
so I might find her, bathed
in a glow that is pure hell alone,
but tempered by her silver
to a dark the mouths remember, breathing
flesh into flames. Let us be candles
melted to a single wax. Let us be tangled at dawn
and lick awake the lids of each other’s salty eyes
and rise—
                 to welcome the daily fire.

James Dickey – Cherrylog Road

Posted in Poems by others on December 6, 2009 by paulscotaugust

James Dickey (1923-1997) may be best known for his novel Deliverance and the 1972 movie of the same name starring Burt Reynolds (where Dickey had a cameo as a sheriff), but he released more than 20 volumes of poetry between 1960 and 1992, was appointed the eighteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1966, and taught at the University of South Carolina as poet-in-residence from 1968 until his death. This is one of his best poems, and I found it in his 1967 book of selected poems (1957-1967) and was originally in his 1964 book Helmets. A narrative tour-de-force with a last line to die for, it has resonated with me since the first time I read it.

Cherrylog Road

Off Highway 106
At Cherrylog Road I entered
The ’34 Ford without wheels,
Smothered in kudzu,
With a seat pulled out to run
Corn whiskey down from the hills,

And then from the other side
Crept into an Essex
With a rumble seat of red leather
And then out again, aboard
A blue Chevrolet, releasing
The rust from its other color,

Reared up on three building blocks.
None had the same body heat;
I changed with them inward, toward
The weedy heart of the junkyard,
For I knew that Doris Holbrook
Would escape from her father at noon

And would come from the farm
To seek parts owned by the sun
Among the abandoned chassis,
Sitting in each in turn
As I did, leaning forward
As in a wild stock-car race

In the parking lot of the dead.
Time after time, I climbed in
And out the other side, like
An envoy or movie star
Met at the station by crickets.
A radiator cap raised its head,

Become a real toad or a kingsnake
As I neared the hub of the yard,
Passing through many states,
Many lives, to reach
Some grandmother’s long Pierce-Arrow
Sending platters of blindness forth

From its nickel hubcaps
And spilling its tender upholstery
On sleepy roaches,
The glass panel in between
Lady and colored driver
Not all the way broken out,

The back-seat phone
Still on its hook.
I got in as though to exclaim,
“Let us go to the orphan asylum,
John; I have some old toys
For children who say their prayers.”

I popped with sweat as I thought
I heard Doris Holbrook scrape
Like a mouse in the southern-state sun
That was eating the paint in blisters
From a hundred car tops and hoods.
She was tapping like code,

Loosening the screws,
Carrying off headlights,
Sparkplugs, bumpers,
Cracked mirrors and gear-knobs,
Getting ready, already,
To go back with something to show

Other than her lips’ new trembling
I would hold to me soon, soon,
Where I sat in the ripped back seat
Talking over the interphone,
Praying for Doris Holbrook
To come from her father’s farm

And to get back there
With no trace of me on her face
To be seen by her red-haired father
Who would change, in the squalling barn,
Her back’s pale skin with a strop,
Then lay for me

In a bootlegger’s roasting car
With a string-triggered I2-gauge shotgun
To blast the breath from the air.
Not cut by the jagged windshields,
Through the acres of wrecks she came
With a wrench in her hand,

Through dust where the blacksnake dies
Of boredom, and the beetle knows
The compost has no more life.
Someone outside would have seen
The oldest car’s door inexplicably
Close from within:

I held her and held her and held her,
Convoyed at terrific speed
By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us,
So the blacksnake, stiff
With inaction, curved back
Into life, and hunted the mouse

With deadly overexcitement,
The beetles reclaimed their field
As we clung, glued together,
With the hooks of the seat springs
Working through to catch us red-handed
Amidst the gray breathless batting

That burst from the seat at our backs.
We left by separate doors
Into the changed, other bodies
Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard

Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.

James Dickey

Into the Stone and Other Poems (1960)
Drowning with Others (1962)
Two Poems of the Air (1964)
Helmets (1964)
Buckdancer’s Choice (1965)
Poems 1957-67 (1967)
The Achievement of James Dickey: A Comprehensive Selection of His Poems (1968)
The Eye Beaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buckhead and Mercy (1970)
Exchanges (1971)
The Zodiac (1976)
Veteran Birth: The Gadfly Poems 1947-49 (1978)
Head-Deep in Strange Sounds: Free-Flight Improvisations from the unEnglish (1979)
The Strength of Fields (1979)
Falling, May Day Sermon, and Other Poems (1981)
The Early Motion (1981)
Puella (1982)
Värmland (1982)
False Youth: Four Seasons (1983)
For a Time and Place (1983)
Intervisions (1983)
The Central Motion: Poems 1968-79 (1983)
Bronwen, The Traw, and the Shape-Shifter: A Poem in Four Parts (1986)
The Eagle’s Mile (1990)
The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1949-92 (1992).

Anne Sexton – Divorce

Posted in Poems by others on November 14, 2009 by paulscotaugust

Anne Sexton’s birthday was last week on November 9th, and I meant to post this poem then, but never got around to it. I find her poetry to be hit or miss, but more of the former. Some of it blows me away, and some of it does nothing for me. A couple of years ago, when I bought a large lot of poetry books, all of her original editions were in the boxes. And I’ve found every book has a handful of amazing poems in them, and the more I read them, the more I see there was more to her work than merely confession. This one continues to haunt me.


I have killed our lives together,
axed off each head,
with their poor blue eyes stuck in a beach ball
rolling separately down the drive.
I have killed all the good things,
but they are too stubborn for me.
They hang on.
The little words of companionship
have crawled into their graves,
the thread of compassion,
dear as a strawberry,
the mingling of bodies
that bore two daughters within us,
the look of you dressing,
all the separate clothes, neat and folded,
you sitting on the edge of the bed
polishing your shoes with boot black,
and I loved you then, so wise from the shower,
and I loved you many other times
and I have been, for months,
trying to drown it,
to push it under,
to keep its great red tongue
under like a fish, but wherever I look they are on fire,
the bass, the bluefish, the wall-eyed flounder
blazing among the kelp and seaweed
like many suns battering up the waves
and my love stays bitterly glowing,
spasms of it will not sleep,
and I am helpless and thirsty and need shade
but there is no one to cover me –
not even God.

Anne Sexton

To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960)
All My Pretty Ones (1962)
Live or Die (1966) – Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1967
Love Poems (1969)
Transformations (1971)
The Book of Folly (1972)
The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975; posthumous)
45 Mercy Street (1976; posthumous)

Jack Gilbert – Failing and Flying

Posted in Poems by others on October 21, 2009 by paulscotaugust

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert

From Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925. He was educated in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, where he later participated in Jack Spicer’s famous “Poetry as Magic” Workshop at San Francisco State College in 1957.

Soon after publishing his first book, Views of Jeopardy, in 1962, Gilbert received a Guggenheim Fellowship and subsequently moved abroad, living in England, Denmark, and Greece. During that time, he also toured fifteen countries as a lecturer on American Literature for the U.S. State Department. Nearly twenty years after completing Views of Jeopardy, he published his second book, Monolithos. The collection takes its title from Greek, meaning “single stone,” and refers to the landscape where he lived on the island of Santorini.

About Gilbert’s work, the poet James Dickey said, “He takes himself away to a place more inward than is safe to go; from that awful silence and tightening, he returns to us poems of savage compassion.”

Gilbert is also the author of Transgressions: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books 2006), Refusing Heaven (2005), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992 (1996). His poetry has been featured in The American Poetry Review, The Quarterly, Poetry, Ironwood, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and other journals. He has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Monolithos won the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize, and Views of Jeopardy won the Yale Younger Poets Series. Both books were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Gilbert was the 1999-2000 Grace Hazard Conkling writer-in-residence at Smith College and a visiting professor and writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in 2004. He currently resides in western Massachusetts.

Josh Bell – Sleeping with Julia Roberts

Posted in Poems by others on October 6, 2009 by paulscotaugust

One day a few years back I walked into my local indy bookstore, and Josh Bell’s first book No Planets Strike was on the employee suggestion shelf with a very pursuasive shelf-talker saying this book was an absolute must-read. So I went with it, and bought it, and they were quite correct. The book is full of funny, scary, dizzying, moving poems that jump around with broken hearts, pop culture references, a mysterious character named Ramona who appears throughout, and 8 poems with the words Zombie Sunday in the title. Even the “Note on the Type” page is really a long, hilarious prose poem. I had the opportunity to see Josh Bell read from this book soon after, and it was one of the best readings I’ve ever seen. I post the following poem for many reasons, the best being that he signed my book Stay Away From Julia: That’s My Heat.

Sleeping with Julia Roberts

She smelled like plastic fruit and Pablo
Neruda was her favorite poet. Her thoughts,
stoked with speed and Nietzsche
and wired by Paramount, brought out
the secret patterns of the bedroom
wallpaper: shuddering valences of time,
blue daisies, a frozen horse against which
I spread my legs, and read myself

my rights. She was crazy about pasta salad.
She never called me Ace, she never lied.
It sounded like bourgeois when she sneezed
and each time she came into a room
where I already was, she’d click her tongue
and snap, you’re not supposed to be
in this picture, boy
, but it was me who bought
the custom-made dental pick she wore

around her neck on a silver chain,
it was me who tilted back that giant head
and worked the plaque until she screamed.
I engraved messages for archaeologists
below the gum-line. I flossed up the hot,
chalky remains of a battleship lost against
the icy floes of her crenellated teeth.
Once it was her birthday. She swallowed
the room, the room slipped into her mouth

backwards, like a car reeled into a garage,
and I realized, then, that love had evolved,
and no longer should I be concerned
with God, who tossed his dice across
her stomach, who bet her museum quality
bones against his own, then timed
her record quarter mile, and when we
felt her hit his holy bloodstream like
a B-grade nightingale, it was the death

of man. On bad nights I’d find her, adding
freakish columns of numbers on the bathroom tile,
shivering, barefoot, shit-faced on mescal,
her moon in Virgo, her father’s rusty, six-hole
leather punch a souvenir bulge in the front
pocket of her unzipped purple jeans. Alice,
I’d say (she made me call her Alice),
Alice, come back to bed, the worst
is over now. Your pink mitten lung is a perfect

fit tonight, and I can already feel
your prescription-dry tongue popping
like a match down my spine. This always
worked. Her scars turned into wine. I prayed
our babies would have her beautiful,
beautiful round head, the flotsam eyes,
her webbed tongue coiled in each drawbridge
mouth, and on each tongue her god-awful name.
I was in love with her when she was played
by time. No one else can say the same.

Josh Bell

Joshua Bell’s first book is No Planets Strike, Zoo Press/University of Nebraska Press, 2005. He received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow and Paul Engle Postgraduate Fellow. He was the Diane Middlebrook Fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s Creative Writing Institute, 2003-04, and in the Summer of 2006 was a Walter Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. His poems have appeared in such magazines as 9th Letter, Boston Review, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Triquarterly, Verse, and Volt. His poems have been reprinted in such recent anthologies as Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande) and Imaginary Poets: 22 Master Poets Create 22 Master Poets (Tupelo Press). New poems are forthcoming in the anthologies The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin’s) and Third Rail: Rock and Roll Poetry (MTV Books).

Kim Addonizio – The Divorcee and Gin

Posted in Poems by others on September 30, 2009 by paulscotaugust

I found Kim Addonizio from her craft book, The Poet’s Companion(1997), which she co-authored with Dorianne Laux. As is my habit, I bought her latest book at the time, What is This Thing Called Love(2004), and then found a copy of Tell Me(2000). She also came out with a new book of craft called Ordinary Genius(2009). Her newest book is Lucifer at the Startlight(2009) and was just published. Many of her poems drip with passion, desire, pain, music, sex and booze. Always wrapped is strong technique. This poem from Tell Me is classic Kim, from the topic, to the craft, to the gut-punch ending.

The Divorcee and Gin

I love the frosted pints you come in,
and the tall bottles with their uniformed men;
the bars where you’re poured chilled
into shallow glasses, the taste of drowned olives,
and the scrawled benches where I see you
passed impatiently from one mouth
to another, the bag twisted tight around
your neck, the hand that holds you
shaking a little from its need
which is the true source of desire, God, I love
what you do to me at night when we’re alone,
how you wait for me to take you into me
until I’m so confused with you I can’t
stand up anymore. I know you want me
helpless, each cell whimpering, and I give
you that, letting you have me just the way
you like it. And when you’re finished
you turn your face to the wall while I curl
around you again, and enter another morning
with aspirin and the useless ache
that comes from loving, too well,
those who, under the guise of pleasure,
destroy everything they touch.

Kim Addonizio

As an aside, she also blows a mean harmonica!