Poetry anthology senior English Elective / Instructor: Mrs. Garcia



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The First Photograph of Hitler

WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA (1923-2012) She was a Polish poet and Nobel Prize winner.


And who is this baby in a robe?

Why, it’s little Dolphie, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hitler!

Perhaps he’ll grow up to be a doctor of law?

Or he’ll be a tenor in the Vienna Opera?

Whose tiny hand is it, whose tiny ear, eye, nose?

Whose little belly full of milk, we don’t know yet:

A printer, councilor, merchant, priest?

Where will these funny legs take him, where to?

To a garden, a school the office, a wedding,

perhaps with the mayor’s daughter?


Sweet tot, little angel, crumb, tiny ray of light,

when he was coming into their world a year ago,

there was no lack of signs in heaven and earth:

Spring sun, geraniums in windows,

music of organ-grinders in the courtyard,

auspicious omen in pink tissue paper,

prophetic dream of the mother just before the delivery:

To see a dove in a dream—good news,

to catch this dove—a long-awaited guest will arrive.

Knock, knock, who’s there? So beats Dolphie’s tiny heart.


Pacifier, diapers, bib, rattle,

the boy, thank God!, knock on wood, is healthy,

Looks like his parents, like a pussycat in a basket

Like children from all other family albums.


Well, we probably won’t cry now,

Mister Photographer will go click under his black hood.

Studio Klinger, Grabenstrasse Braumen,

and Braumen is a small but dignified town,

solid firms, decent neighbors,

smell of dough rising, and grey soap.

One hears neither the howling of dogs nor the steps of destiny.
The history teacher loosens his collar

and yawns over the students’ notebooks.



Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh


From p. 307-308 of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003), edited by Billy Collins.

AB Negative (The Surgeon’s Poem)

BRYAN TURNER (1967- ) He is a soldier-poet who served for seven years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He currently lives in California.
Thalia Fields lies under a grey ceiling of clouds,
just under the turbulence, with anesthetics
dripping from an IV into her arm,
and the flight surgeon says The shrapnel
cauterized as it traveled through her
here, breaking this rib as it entered,
burning a hole through the left lung
to finish in her back
, and all of this
she doesn’t hear, except perhaps as music —
that faraway music of people’s voices
when they speak gently and with care,
a comfort to her on a stretcher
in a flying hospital en route to Landstahl,
just under the rain at midnight, and Thalia
drifts in and out of consciousness
as a nurse dabs her lips with a moist towel,
her palm on Thalia’s forehead, her vitals
slipping some, as burned flesh gives way
to the heat of the blood, the tunnels within
opening to fill her, just enough blood
to cough up and drown in; Thalia
sees the shadows of people working
to save her, but she cannot feel their hands,
cannot hear them any longer,
and when she closes her eyes
the most beautiful colors rise in darkness,
tangerine washing into Russian blue,
with the droning engine humming on
in a dragonfly’s wings, island palms
painting the sky an impossible hue
with their thick brushes dripping green…
a way of dealing with the fact
that Thalia Fields is gone, long gone,
about as far from Mississippi
as she can get, ten thousand feet above Iraq
with a blanket draped over her body
and an exhausted surgeon in tears,
his bloodied hands on her chest, his head
sunk down, the nurse guiding him
to a nearby seat and holding him as he cries,
though no one hears it, because nothing can be heard
where pilots fly in blackout, the plane
like a shadow guiding the rain, here
in the droning engines of midnight.

From pp. 15-16 of Here, Bullet (2005)

Eulogy

BRYAN TURNER (1967- ) He is a soldier-poet who served for seven years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He currently lives in California.



 You can hear him read this on YouTube.
It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M.,

as tower guards eat sandwiches

and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.

Prisoners tilt their heads to the west

though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.

The sound reverberates down concertina coils

the way piano wire thrums when given slack.

And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,

when Private Miller pulls the trigger

to take brass and fire into his mouth:

the sound lifts the birds up off the water,

a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,

and nothing can stop it now, no matter what

blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices

crackle over the radio in static confusion,

because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,

and Private Miller has found what low hush there is

down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.


PFC B. Miller

(1980—March 22, 2004)

From p. 20 of Here, Bullet (2005)
Here, Bullet

BRYAN TURNER (1967- ) He is a soldier-poet who served for seven years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He currently lives in California.

 You can hear him read this on YouTube.
If a body is what you want,

then here is bone and gristle and flesh.

Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,

the aorta's opened valves, the leap

thought makes at the synaptic gap.

Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,

that inexorable fight, that insane puncture

into heat and blood. And a dare you to finish

what you've started. Because here, Bullet,

here is where I complete the word you bring

hissing through the air, here is where I moan

the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering

my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have

inside of me, each twist of the round

spun deeper, because here, Bullet,

here is where the world ends, every time.


from p. 13 of Here Bullet (2005)

Sadiq

BRYAN TURNER (1967- ) He is a soldier-poet who served for seven years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He currently lives in California.


It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient

because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.”

- SA’DI
It should make you shake and sweat,

nightmare you, strand you in a desert

of irrevocable desolation, the consequences

seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline

feeds the muscle its courage, no matter

what god shines down on you, no matter

what crackling pain and anger

you carry in your fists, my friend,

it should break your heart to kill.

From p. 56 of Here, Bullet (2005)

What Every Soldier Should Know

BRYAN TURNER (1967- ) He is a soldier-poet who served for seven years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He currently lives in California.



To yield force to is an act of necessity, not of will;                          
                         it is at best an act of prudence.
                            
                                 —Jean-Jacques Rousseau
If you hear gunfire on a Thursday afternoon,

it could be for a wedding, or it could be for you.

 

Always enter a home with your right foot;



the left is for cemeteries and unclean places.

 

O-guf! Tera armeek is rarely useful.

It means Stop! Or I’ll shoot.
Sabah el khair is effective.

It means Good morning.

 

Inshallah means Allah be willing.

Listen well when it is spoken.

 

You will hear the RPG coming for you.



Not so the roadside bomb.

 

There are bombs under the overpasses,



in trashpiles, in bricks, in cars.

 

There are shopping carts with clothes soaked



in foogas, a sticky gel of homemade napalm.

 

Parachute bombs and artillery shells



sewn into the carcasses of dead farm animals.

 

Graffiti sprayed onto the overpasses:



I will kell you, American.

 

Men wearing vests rigged with explosives



walk up, raise their arms and say Inshallah.

 

There are men who earn eighty dollars



to attack you, five thousand to kill.

 

Small children who will play with you,



old men with their talk, women who offer chai—

 

and any one of them



may dance over your body tomorrow.
from p. 9 of Here Bullet

Dog’s Death


JOHN UPDIKE (1932-2009)
She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.
Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
And to win, wetting there, the words, "Good dog! Good dog!"
We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.
Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest's bed.
We found her twisted limp but still alive.
In the car to the vet's, on my lap, she tried
To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.
Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.
Another Dog’s Death by JOHN UPDIKE
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the field.
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up earth.
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.

The Mystery of the Caves

MICHAEL WATERS (1949- ) He was born in Brooklyn, NY.
I don’t remember the name of the story,

but the hero, a boy, was lost,

wandering a labyrinth of caverns

Filling stratum by stratum with water.


I was wondering what might happen:

would he float upward toward light?

Or would he somersault forever

in an underground black river?


I couldn’t stop reading the book

because I had to know the answer.

because my mother was leaving again—

the lid of the trunk thrown open,


blouses torn from their hangers,

the crazy shouting among rooms.

The boy found it impossible to see

which passage led to safety.


One yellow finger of flame

wavered on his last match.

There was a blur of perfume—

Mother breaking miniature bottles,


Then my father gripping her,

but too tightly, by both arms.

The boy wasn’t able to breathe.

I think he wanted me to help,


but I was small, and it was late.

And my mother was sobbing now,

no longer cursing her life,

repeating my father’s name


among bright islands of skirts

circling the rim of the bed.

I can’t recall the whole story,

what happened at the end….


Sometimes I worry that the boy

is still searching below the earth

for a thin pencil of light,

that I can almost hear him


through great volumes of water,

through centuries of stone,

crying my name among blind fish,

wanting so much to come home. from Anniversary of the Air (1985), reprinted in Parthenopi (2005).

Did I Miss Anything?

TOM WAYMAN (1945- )


Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here

we sat with our hands folded on our desks

in silence, for the full two hours
Everything., I gave an exam worth

40 percent of the grade for this term

and assigned some reading due today

on which I’m about to hand out a quiz

worth 50 percent
Nothing. None of the content of this course

has value or meaning

Take as many days off as you like:

any activities we undertake as a class

I assure you will not matter either to you or me

and are without purpose


Everything. A few minutes after we began last time

a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel

or other heavenly being appeared

and revealed to us what each woman or man must do

to attain divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter

This is the last time the class will meet

before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth
Nothing. When you are not present

how could something significant occur?


Everything. Contained in this classroom

is a microcosm of human experience

assembled for you to query and examine and ponder

This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered


but it was one place
And you weren’t here

From pp. 37-38 of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003), edited by Billy Collins.

This Is Just to Say

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1883-1963) He was born in Rutherford, NJ.

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox


and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast


Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold



http://www.marriedtothesea.com/061809/dear-william.gif

Five Houses Down

CHRISTIAN WIMAN (1966- ) He was raised in West Texas and is now the Editor of Poetry Magazine.
I loved his ten demented chickens

and the hell-eyed dog, the mailbox

shaped like a huge green gun.

I loved the eyesore opulence

of his five partial cars, the wonder-cluttered porch

with its oilspill plumage, tools

cauled in oil, the dark

clockwork of disassembled engines

christened Sweet Baby and benedicted Old Bitch;

and down the steps into the yard the explosion

of mismatched parts and black scraps

amid which, like a bad sapper cloaked

in luck, he would look up stunned,

patting the gut that slopped out of his undershirt

and saying, Son,

you lookin’ to make some scratch?

All afternoon we’d pile the flatbed high

with stacks of Exxon floormats

mysteriously stencilled with his name,

rain-rotted sheetrock or miles

of misfitted pipes, coil after coil

of rusted fencewire that stained for days

every crease of me, rollicking it all

to the dump where, while he called

every ragman and ravened junkdog by name,

he catpicked the avalanche of trash

and fished some always fixable thing

up from the depths. Something

about his endless aimless work

was not work, my father said.

Somehow his barklike earthquake curses

were not curses, for he could goddam

a slipped wrench and ******** a stuck latch,

but one bad word from me

made his whole being

twang like a nail mis-struck. Ain’t no call for that,

son, no call at all. Slipknot, whatknot, knot

from which no man escapes—

prestoed back to plain old rope;

whipsnake, blacksnake, deep in the wormdirt

worms like the clutch of mud:

I wanted to live forever

five houses down

in the womanless rooms a woman

sometimes seemed to move through, leaving him

twisting a hand-stitched dishtowel

or idly wiping the volcanic dust.

It seemed like heaven to me:

beans and weenies from paper plates,

black-fingered tinkerings on the back stoop

as the sun set, on an upturned fruitcrate

a little jamjar of rye like ancient light,

from which, once, I took a single, secret sip,

my eyes tearing and my throat on fire.

From pp. 7-9 of Every Riven Thing (2010)

I Said Yes But I Meant No

DEAN YOUNG (1955- ) He was born in Columbia, PA.
People are compelled to be together good and bad.

You’ve agreed to shrimp with the geology couple.

If you like one 85% and the other 35%

That’s not so bad.

You need to like one at least 70%

and like the other not less than 25%

otherwise it’s agonizing and pointless

like being crucified without religious significance.

Averages are misleading.

I like that couple 110% could mean

each is appreciated 55% which will not kill you

but neither will sleeping in you own urine.

One should like oneself between 60 and 80%.

Under 45%, one becomes an undertaking,

prone to eating disorders, public weeping,

useless for gift wrapping and relay races.

Over 85% means you are a self-involved bore,

I don’t care about your Nobel Prize in positrons

or your dog sled victories.

Of course there is a great variance throughout the day.

You may feel 0% upon first waking

but that is because you don’t yet know you exist

which is why baby-studies have been a bust.

Then as you venture forth to boil water,

You may fee a sudden surge to 90%,

Hey, I’m GOOD at boiling water!

which can be promptly counteracted by turning on your e-mail.

It is important not to let variance become too extreme,

a range of 40% is allowable,

beyond that it is as great storms upon drought-stricken land.

i.e. mudslides.

Sugar, retirement plans, impending jail time

all are influential factors.

Generally, most data has been gathered

regarding raising percentages,

the modern world it is argued is plentiful

with opportunities of negative effect.

The tanker spills and the shore birds turn black and lose their ability to float.

Sometimes a good scrub is all that’s needed.

A fresh shirt.

Shock therapy has never been fully discounted

and people have felt significant surges

from backpacking into remote and elevated areas,

a call home.

Yet the very same may backfire.

Thwamp, thwamp, the helicopter lowers the rescue crew,

the phone slammed down.

Each case is profoundly nuanced.

like the lock systems of Holland.

Some, frankly, are beyond help,

but it you are a tall woman, wear shoes to make you taller!

Candy corn, what kind of person doesn’t like candy corn?

Tell that 70 / 35 % rock couple you can not come,

you forgot your fencing lesson,

your cat just had a puppy,

your tongue is green,

you are in fact dying.
From p. 243-245 of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003), edited by Billy Collins.


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If this packet is found, please return it to B-16 or Mrs. Garcia’s mailbox in B House. Thanks!



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