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Category archive for: W.D. Snodgrass

Invitation

Come live with me and be my last

Resource, location and resort,

My workday’s focus and steadfast

Distraction to a weekend’s sport.

Come end up with me, close my list;

Blank my black book, block every e-mail

From ex-loves whose mouths won’t be missed;

Let nothing else alive look female.

Come couch with me mit Freud und Lust

As every evening’s last connection.

Talk to me; prove the day like Proust;

Let what comes next rise to inspection.

Come, let old aftermaths get lost,

Let failures and betrayals mend,

Cancel repayments; clear the cost;

Once more unto the breach, dear friend.

Come lay us down to sleep at least,

Sharing this pillow’s picture show.

Who’s been my braintrust and best beast?

Who else knows what I need to know?

from Not For Specialists: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2006
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

April Inventory

The green catalpa tree has turned

All white; the cherry blooms once more.

In one whole year I haven’t learned

A blessed thing they pay you for.

The blossoms snow down in my hair;

The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.

The sleek, expensive girls I teach,

Younger and pinker every year,

Bloom gradually out of reach.

The pear tree lets its petals drop

Like dandruff on a tabletop.

The girls have grown so young by now

I have to nudge myself to stare.

This year they smile and mind me how

My teeth are falling with my hair.

In thirty years I may not get

Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.

The tenth time, just a year ago,

I made myself a little list

Of all the things I’d ought to know,

Then told my parents, analyst,

And everyone who’s trusted me

I’d be substantial, presently.

I haven’t read one book about

A book or memorized one plot.

Or found a mind I did not doubt.

I learned one date. And then forgot.

And one by one the solid scholars

Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.

And smile above their starchy collars.

I taught my classes Whitehead’s notions;

One lovely girl, a song of Mahler’s.

Lacking a source-book or promotions,

I showed one child the colors of

A luna moth and how to love.

I taught myself to name my name,

To bark back, loosen love and crying;

To ease my woman so she came,

To ease an old man who was dying.

I have not learned how often I

Can win, can love, but choose to die.

I have not learned there is a lie

Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;

That my equivocating eye

Loves only by my body’s hunger;

That I have forces, true to feel,

Or that the lovely world is real.

While scholars speak authority

And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,

My eyes in spectacles shall see

These trees procure and spend their leaves.

There is a value underneath

The gold and silver in my teeth.

Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,

We shall afford our costly seasons;

There is a gentleness survives

That will outspeak and has its reasons.

There is a loveliness exists,

Preserves us, not for specialists.

from Not For Specialists: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2006
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Lifelong

     —for the marriage of Charles and Lucina, Candelaria Day,

       Feb. 2, 1995. Terminally ill, Charles died Dec. 31, 1996.

So long as you both shall lift

   An echo in night’s tunnel, lift

   A child from numbing pavements, lift

   A hand to hold back, to set loose, to enfold;

So long as you both shall leave

   Proud pursuits go their own gait, leave

   The trampling and bright trophies, leave

   Your tidemark on the mind’s strand;

So long as you both shall laugh

   At sworn lies and their catch tunes, laugh

   At all contrived, all forced growths, laugh

   From the peaks of occult, calm passion;

So long as you both shall leaf

   Through sanctimonious parchments, leaf

   Gold on a new daybook’s edges, leaf

   Out, then blossom the nerves’ branchings;

So long as you both shall listen

   To the song latched in the ribs’ cage, listen

   To breath, soft, in the next room, listen

   To surfsound down the blood’s ways;

So long as you both shall love,

   So long last; none lasts longer.

from Not For Specialists: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2006
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.