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Luci Shaw and Laurance Wieder

Two by Two

Two poems apiece by two poets.


I made for grief a leaden bowl
and drank it, every drop.
And though I thought I'd downed it all
the hurting didn't stop.
I made of hope a golden sieve
to drain my world of pain.
Though I was sure I'd bled it dry
the void filled up again.
I made of words a silver fork
and stabbed love in the heart,
and when I found the sweetness gone
I chewed it into art.

Collection, Recollection

Can the arrow forget the bow-string and
the bow—their pent-up passion
to let fly? The sudden snap and twang,
the relief of release?
The fledgling, having just
chipped herself free in the nest,
how does she practice
the wide threat of space?
A clear lens, the drop of rain
carries in its orb an image of the sky
from which it fell—a piece of cloud—and
with it a recollection of thunder.
And the predestined satchel
of tomorrow, will it not be packed
with the finely-orchestrated
chaos of today?

—Luci Shaw

Glib Confucian, Garrulous Llullist

I have felt it in my heart
I have done it in my pants
I have thought it through in daylight
I have asked it to a dance
I've committed it in writing
I have grasped it in the dark
I have gone without companions
Through the ramble, in the park
I have shown it in a movie
And denied it to my face
Made an altar of the mirror
Taken pride in my disgrace
I have touched it up in photos
I have taken it on tour
I've walked it twice around the block
To help it feel secure
I have told my dreams about it
To near strangers in the street
I have stroked it under covers
I have fed it to the cat
I have smothered it with curses
And inflated it with smacks
I've done everything but name it
As it slithers through the cracks
I could go on forever
But I don't believe I will
Though it occupies the emptiness
And does expand to fill

Fabulous, but Not Out Loud

When Amiri Baraka / Leroi Jones
Was busted on a weapons charge
In the late 1960s, writers
Held a demonstration shouting:
Lyres Speak the Truth.
Allen Ginsberg led the chanters;
The trial was in all the papers:
Leroi Jones was jailed.
In the 1980s,
New York Mayor Edward Koch (that rhymes
With botch, not coke) promoting
One of his bestsellers, spoke
At the New York PEN Club
About himself and politics
And making war on drugs.
Rising from the audience,
Asked the mayor in one breath if he
"Supported the conspiracy
Between drug companies
And vampire landlord warlord lobbies
That make ordinary
Citizens criminals, criminals rich
Though government authority
Does not extend to ecstasy and
Mister Mayor will the prisoners
Of conscience ever be set free?"
Koch chanted down the poet:
"OM! Allen, OM! OM! OM! OM!"
(Pronounced to rhyme with bomb, not comb.)
A humorist once told me: "I love poets,
They are great to steal from."

—Laurance Wieder

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