Gaslight, by Tom Raworth

a line of faces borders the strangler’s work
heavy european women
mist blows over dusty tropical plants
lit from beneath the leaves by a spotlight
mist in my mind a riffled deck
 
of cards or eccentrics
was i
a waterton animal my head
is not my own
 
poetry is neither swan nor owl
but worker, miner
digging each generation deeper
through the shit of its eaters
to the root – then up to the giant tomato
 
someone else’s song is always behind us
as we wake from a dream trying to remember
step onto a thumbtack
 
two worlds – we write the skin
the surface tension that holds
                                       you
                                       in
what we write is ever the past
 
curtain pulled back
a portrait behind it
is a room suddenly lit
 
looking out through the eyes
at a t.v. programme
of a monk sealed into a coffin
 
we close their eyes and ours
and still here the tune
 
moves on

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems, by James Tate

They didn’t have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
“You look like a god sitting there.
Why don’t you try writing something?”

Languages, by Carl Sandburg

There are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing—and singing—remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry, by Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

Blue or Green, by James Galvin

We don't belong to each other.
		          We belong together.
	                                                                   Some poems 
belong together to prove the intentionality of subatomic particles.

Some poems eat with scissors.
                                                     Some poems are like   kissing a 
porcupine. 
                   God, by the way, is disappointed in some of your recent 
choices.
               Some poems swoop.
                                                   When she said my eyes   were 
definitely blue, I said, How can you see that in the dark? How can you not? she said,   and that was like some poems.
                                                                                  Some poems are 
blinded three times.
                                  Some poems go like death before dishonor.

Some poems go like the time she brought cherries to the movies; 
later a heedless picnic in her bed.
		                 Never revered I crumbs so
highly.
            Some poems have perfect posture, as if hanging by 
filaments from the sky. 
                                        Those poems walk like dancers, 
noiselessly.
                      All poems are love poems.  
                                                                   Some    poems are better off 
dead.
           Right now I want something I don't believe in.

If It All Went Up in Smoke, by George Oppen

that smoke
would remain

the forever
savage country poem’s light borrowed

light of the landscape and one’s footprints praise

from distance
in the close
crowd all

that is strange the sources

the wells the poem begins

neither in word
nor meaning but the small
selves haunting

us in the stones and is less

always than that help me I am
of that people the grass

blades touch

and touch in their small

distances the poem
begins