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A Century of Pulitzer Poetry Out of Context - Three





a century of Pulitzer poetry

Out of Context three





by Willy Thorn





copywright MMXVI








Table of Contents

*. introduction



orror ( 9 )

opening scene


witch’s goblet


a steven king scene


a haunted house

the count’s ink well

witch’s brew



horror flix 2 ( 11 )

an ‘evil dead’ sequel

ed gein

norm bates


the evil half

serial killer

girl serial killer

on the run; in a slasher flick

murder at the swimming hole





places ( 15 )

on the porch in winter

dive bar



doctor’s office

merry go round

U2 concert


the high school gym shower

one quiet house

a tennessee zoo


skiing accident

ice skating on my lake

who broke the pool



animals ( 5 )

mama otter

cow at pasture

a timberwolf’s lament

beach dog




circus occupations ( 6 )

pt. barnum


the ring’s dark side

bird lady

crystal ball fortune teller

magicians assistant



non-circus occupations ( 8 )

cat lady


italian art trader

zg fruit vendor



dairy farmer



ngry women ( 1o )

a taoist fantasy

scrabble nite

pirate hooker


particle theory

single moms

man eater

neutron & cloud


mu shu pork



hobohemia ( 8 )

treasure map

trainyard hobo




skid row mermaid


hobo gold standard



outbound ( 4 )



cocktails at santas

devil says



the end game

*. poet biographies

*. dedication

*. about the author





This book began with an historical review

of every Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry

in American History.



Along the way a strange thing happened

immersed deep in the text & lost in transition

- disembodied voices emerged

which didnt match the writer


which all poets do

as channeling vessels

& voice for the voiceless

or speaking for beauty

& prophetic gods

emotions & muses

& spirits of the times




What you have here are the best such gems


76 in all; by 36 of America’s most decorated poets

plucked out of context; isolated

polished, collected & heaped up

for your reading enjoyment



The ‘Headline’ on each piece is mine;

clearly demarked; penned in & roped off

by strings of question marks.


But the Text is direct

from the original poem;

no words were changed

altered, or added



The Original Author is hidden

& appears in the answer key;

paired with a biography

in brief; which includes:

. the places the poet hung out

. the placard(s) on their desk

. & their Pulitzers



okay. happy poetrying



‘the poet ridiculed by hysterical academics’














? ? ? ? ? ? horror movie: scene open ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


Even now this landscape is assembling.


The hills darken. The oxen

Sleep in their blue yoke,


The fields having been

Picked clean, the sheaves

Bound evenly and piled at the roadside

Among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:


This is the barrenness

Of harvest or pestilence


And the wife leaning out the window

With her hand extended, as in payment,

And the seeds

Distinct, gold, calling

Come here

Come here, little one


And the soul creeps out of the tree.



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


(to the answer key)


{ LG 93 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? quoth the gravestone ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


The fountains are dry and the roses over.


Incense of death. Your day approaches.

The pears fatten like little buddhas.

A blue mist is dragging the lake.


You move through the era of fishes,

The smug centuries of the pig-

Head, toe and finger

Come clear of the shadow. History


Nourishes these broken flutings,

These crowns of acanthus,

And the crow settles her garments.

You inherit white heather, a bee’s wing,


Two suicides, the family wolves,

Hours of blankness. Some hard stars

Already yellow the heavens.

The spider on its own string


Crosses the lake. The worms

Quit their usual habitations.


The small birds converge, converge

With their gifts to a difficult borning.



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ SP 82 }


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? ? ? ? ? witch’s goblet ? ? ? ? ??


Your destination and your destiny’s

A brook that was the water of the house,

Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,

Too lofty and original to rage.


(We know the valley streams that when aroused

Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)


I have kept hidden in the instep arch

Of an old cedar at the waterside

A broken drinking goblet like the Grail


Under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it,

So can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t.


(I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.)


Here are your waters and your watering place.

Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ RF 24 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? pumpkin head ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


I spot the hills

With yellow balls in autumn.


I light the prairie cornfields

Orange and tawny gold clusters

And I am called pumpkins.


On the last of October

When dusk is fallen

Children join hands

And circle round me

Singing ghost songs

And love to the harvest moon;


I am a jack-o’-lantern

With terrible teeth

And the children know

I am fooling.



who wrote this

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{ cs 19 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? steven king ? ? ? ? ? ?


Back out of all this now too much for us

Back in a time made simple by the loss

Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off

Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather


There is a house that is no more a house

Upon a farm that is no more a farm

And in a town that is no more a town.


The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you

Who only has at heart your getting lost,

May seem as if it should have been a quarry -

Great monolithic knees the former town


Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.

And there’s a story in a book about it



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ RF 24 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? skeleton on the run ? ? ? ? ? ?


I staid the night for shelter at a farm

Behind the mountains, with a mother and son,

Two old-believers. They did all the talking.


MOTHER Folks think a witch who has familiar spirits

She could call up to pass a winter evening,

But won’t, should be burned at the stake or something.


Summoning spirits isn’t ‘Button, button,

Who’s got the button,’ I would have them know.


SON: Mother can make a common table rear

And kick with two legs like an army mule.


MOTHER: And when I’ve done it, what good have I



Rather than tip a table for you, let me

Tell you what Ralle the Sioux Control once told me.


He said the dead had souls, but when I asked him

How could that be – I thought the dead were souls,

He broke my trance. Don’t that make you suspicious

That there’s something the dead are keeping back?

Yes, there’s something the dead are keeping back.


SON: You wouldn’t want to tell him what we have

Up attic, mother?


MOTHER: Bones – a skeleton.


SON: But the headboard of mother’s bed is pushed

Against the’ attic door: the door is nailed.


It’s harmless. Mother hears it in the night

Halting perplexed behind the barrier

Of door and headboard. Where it wants to get

Is back into the cellar where it came from.


MOTHER: We’ll never let them, will we, son! We’ll

never !


SON: It left the cellar forty years ago

And carried itself like a pile of dishes

Up one flight from the cellar to the kitchen,

Another from the kitchen to the bedroom,

Another from the bedroom to the attic,

Right past both father and mother, and neither stopped



Father had gone upstairs; mother was downstairs.

I was a baby: I don’t know where I was.


MOTHER: The only fault my husband found with me -

I went to sleep before I went to bed,

Especially in winter when the bed

Might just as well be ice and the clothes snow.


The night the bones came up the cellar-stairs

Toffile had gone to bed alone and left me,

But left an open door to cool the room off

So as to sort of turn me out of it.

I was just coming to myself enough

To wonder where the cold was coming from,

When I heard Toffile upstairs in the bedroom

And thought I heard him downstairs in the cellar.


The board we had laid down to walk dry-shod on

When there was water in the cellar in spring

Struck the hard cellar bottom. And then someone

Began the stairs, two footsteps for each step,

The way a man with one leg and a crutch,

Or a little child, comes up. It wasn’t Toffile:

It wasn’t anyone who could be there.


The bulkhead double-doors were double-locked

And swollen tight and buried under snow.

The cellar windows were banked up with sawdust

And swollen tight and buried under snow.


It was the bones. I knew them – and good reason.

My first impulse was to get to the knob

And hold the door. But the bones didn’t try

The door; they halted helpless on the landing,

Waiting for things to happen in their favour.’


The faintest restless rustling ran all through them.

I never could have done the thing I did

If the wish hadn’t been too strong in me

To see how they were mounted for this walk.

I had a vision of them put together

Not like a man, but like a chandelier.


So suddenly I flung the door wide on him.

A moment he stood balancing with emotion,

And all but lost himself. (A tongue of fire

Flashed out and licked along his upper teeth.

Smoke rolled inside the sockets of his eyes.)

Then he came at me with one hand outstretched,

The way he did in life once; but this time

I struck the hand off brittle on the floor,

And fell back from him on the floor myself.


The finger-pieces slid in all directions.

(Where did I see one of those pieces lately?

Hand me my button-box- it must be there.)

I sat up on the floor and shouted, ‘Toffile,

It’s coming up to you.’ It had its choice

Of the door to the cellar or the hall.


It took the hall door for the novelty,

And set off briskly for so slow a thing,

Stillgoing every which way in the joints, though,

So that it looked like lightning or a scribble,

>From the slap I had just now given its hand.

I listened till it almost climbed the stairs

>From the hall to the only finished bedroom,


Before I got up to do anything;

Then ran and shouted, ‘Shut the bedroom door,

Toffile, for my sake!’ ‘Company?’ he said,

‘Don’t make me get up; I’m too warm in bed.’

So lying forward weakly on the handrail

I pushed myself upstairs, and in the light

(The kitchen had been dark) I had to own

I could see nothing. ‘Toffile, I don’t see it.


It’s with us in the room though. It’s the bones.’


'What bones?' 'The cellar bones- out of the grave.'


That made him throw his bare legs out of bed

And sit up by me and take hold of me.

I wanted to put out the light and see

If I could see it, or else mow the room,

With our arms at the level of our knees,

And bring the chalk-pile down. ‘I’ll tell you what-

It’s looking for another door to try.


The uncommonly deep snow has made him think

Of his old song, The Wild Colonial Boy,

He always used to sing along the tote-road.

He’s after an open door to get out-doors.

Let’s trap him with an open door up attic.’

Toffile agreed to that, and sure enough,

Almost the moment he was given an opening,

The steps began to climb the attic stairs.


I heard them. Toffile didn’t seem to hear them.

‘Quick !’ I slammed to the door and held the knob.

‘Toffile, get nails.’ I made him nail the door shut,

And push the headboard of the bed against it.


Then we asked was there anything

Up attic that we’d ever want again.

The attic was less to us than the cellar.


If the bones liked the attic, let them have it.

Let them stay in the attic. When they sometimes

Come down the stairs at night and stand perplexed

Behind the door and headboard of the bed,

Brushing their chalky skull with chalky fingers,

With sounds like the dry rattling of a shutter,

That’s what I sit up in the dark to say-

To no one any more since Toffile died.


Let them stay in the attic since they went there.

I promised Toffile to be cruel to them

For helping them be cruel once to him.


SON: We think they had a grave down in the cellar.


MOTHER: We know they had a grave down in the cellar.


SON: We never could find out whose bones they were.


MOTHER: Yes, we could too, son. Tell the truth for once.

They were a man’s his father killed for me.

I mean a man he killed instead of me.

The least I could do was to help dig their grave.


We were about it one night in the cellar.

Son knows the story: but ‘twas not for him

To tell the truth, suppose the time had come.

Son looks surprised to see me end a lie

We’d kept all these years between ourselves

So as to have it ready for outsiders.


But to-night I don’t care enough to lie-

I don’t remember why I ever cared.

Toffile, if he were here, I don’t believe

Could tell you why he ever cared himself-


She hadn’t found the finger-bone she wanted

Among the buttons poured out in her lap.


I verified the name next morning: Toffile.

The rural letter-box said Toffile Lajway.



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ RF 24 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? it was the ghost. who pushed me down the stairs.

& broke my ankle. i swear it was a ghost ? ? ? ? ?? ?


Here come my night thoughts

On crutches,

Returning from studying the heavens.

What they thought about

Stayed the same,

Stayed immense and incomprehensible.


My mother and father smile at each other

Knowingly above the mantel.

The cat sleeps on, the dog

Growls in his sleep.

The stove is cold and so is the bed.


Now there are only these crutches

To contend with.


Go ahead and laugh, while I raise one

With difficulty,

Swaying on the front porch,

While pointing at something

In the gray distance.


You see nothing, eh?

Neither do I, Mr. Milkman.

I better hit you once or twice over the head

With this fine old prop,

So you don’t go off muttering


I saw something!



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ CSmc 9o }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? the count’s ink well ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


In the early evening, a now, as man is bending

over his writing table.


Slowly he lifts his head; a woman

appears, carrying roses.


Her face floats to the surface of the mirror,

marked with the green spokes of rose stems.


It is a form

of suffering: then always the transparent page

raised to the window until its veins emerge

as words finally filled with ink.


And I am meant to understand

what binds them together

or to the gray house held firmly in place by dusk


because I must enter their lives:

it is spring, the pear tree

filming with weak, white blossoms.



who wrote this

beautiful piece of literature??


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{ LG 93 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? witch’s brew ? ? ? ? ? ?


My mother-- preferring the strange to the tame:

Dove-note, bone marrow, deer dung,

Frog’s belly distended with finny young,

Leaf-mould wilderness, hare-bell, toadstool,

Odd, small snakes loving through the leaves,

Metallic beetles rambling over stones: all

Wild and natural -flashed out her instinctive love,

and quick, she

Picked up the fluttering.

bleeding bat the cat laid at her feet,


And held the little horror to the mirror, where

He gazed on himself and shrieked like an old screen door

far off.


Depended from her pinched thumb, each wing

Came clattering down like a small black shutter.

Still tranquil, she began, “It’s rather sweet…”

The soft mouse body, the hard feral glint

In the caught eyes. Then we saw

And recoiled: lice, pallid, yellow,

Nested within the wing-pits, cozily sucked and snoozed,

The thing dropped from her hands, and with its thud,

Swiftly, the cat with a clean careful mouth

Closed on the soiled webs, growling, took them out to the back stoop.


But still, dark blood, a sticky puddle on the floor

Remained, of all my my mother’s tender, wounding passion

For a whole wild, lost, betrayed and secret life

Among its dens and burrows, its clean stones,

Whose denizens can turn upon the world

With spitting tongue, an odor, talon, claw

To sting or soil benevolence, alien

As our clumsy traps, our random scatter of shot,

She swept to the kitchen. Turning on the tap,

She washed and washed the pity from her hands.



who wrote this

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{ ck 85 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? evil dead sequel – a mathematician this time ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


{opening scene}



Sunday, September Sunday … Outdoors,


Like an early page from The Appalachian Book of the Dead,

Sunlight lavishes brilliance on every surface,

Doves settle, surreptitious angels,

on tree limb and box branch,

A crow calls, deep in its own darkness,

Something like water ticks on


Just there, beyond the horizon, just there, steady clock …


Go in fear of abstractions …

Well, possibly. Meanwhile,

They are the strata our bodies rise through, the sere veins

Our skins rub off on.


For instance, whatever enlightenment there might be

Housels compassion and affection, those two tributaries

That river above our lives,

Whose waters we sense the sense of

late at night, and later still.


Uneasy, suburbanized,

I drift from the lawn chair to the back porch to the dwarf orchard

Testing the grass and border garden.

A stillness, as in the passageways of Paradise,

Bell jars the afternoon.


Leaves, like ex votos, hang hard and shine

Under the endlessness of heaven.

Such skeletal altars, such vacant sanctuary.


It always amazes me

How landscape recalibrates the stations of the dead,

How what we see jacks up

the odd quotient of what we don’t see,

How God’s breath reconstitutes our walking up and walking down.

First glimpse of autumn, stretched tight and snicked, a bad face lift,


Flicks in and flicks out,

a virtual reality.

Time to begin the long division.



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{ cw 98 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ed gein ? ? ? ? ? ?


learned from those who had painted animals

only from hearing tales about them

without ever setting eyes on them

or from corpses with the lingering

light mute and deathly still forever

held fast in the fur or the feathers

hanging or lying on a table

and he had learned from others who had

arranged the corpses of animals

as though they were still alive in full

flight or on their way but this hedgehog

was there in the same life as his own

looking around at him with his brush

of camel hair and his stretched parchment

of sheepskin as he turned to each sharp

particular quill and every black

whisker on the long live snout and those

flat clawed feet made only for trundling

and for feeling along the dark undersides

of stones and as Hans took them in he

turned into the Hans that we would see



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{ wsm 71 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? young norman bates ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


When Mother died

I thought: now I’ll have a death poem.

That was unforgivable


yet I’ve since forgiven myself

as sons are able to do

who’ve been loved by their mothers.


I stared into the coffin

knowing how long she’d live,

how many lifetimes there are

in the sweet revisions of memory.


It’s hard to know exactly

how we ease ourselves back from sadness,

but I remembered when I was twelve,

1951, before the world

unbuttoned its blouse.



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{ SD o1 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? this is just the plot to hellraiser ? ? ? ? ? ?


Afternoon darkens into evening. A man falls deeper and deeper into the slow spiral of sleep, into the drift of it, the length of it, through what feels like mist, and comes at last to an open door through which he passes without knowing why, then again without knowing why goes to a room where he sits and waits while the room seems to close around him and the dark is darker than any he has known, and he feels something forming within him without being sure what it is, its hold on him growing, as if a story were about to unfold, in which two characters, Pleasure and Pain, commit the same crime, the one that is his, that he will confess to again and again, until it means nothing.



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{ MS 99 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? the evil half ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


He was chronically out of work, why we don’t know.


She was the second born of a set

of estranged identical twins. They met,

hooked up, and moved in with her mother,

who managed a motel on Skyline Drive.


But always it was the other,

the firstborn, the bad twin, the runaway,

he imagined in the shadow

of the “Vacancy” sign


or watching through the window

below the dripping eaves

while they made love or slept.


The body is relaxed and at rest,

the mind is relaxed in its nest,

so the self that is and is not

itself rises and leaves

to peek over the horizon, where it sees

all its psychokinetic possibilities

resolving into shapely fictions.


She was brave, nurturing, kind.

She was evil. She was out of her mind.



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{ VS 14 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? serial killer ? ? ? ? ? ??


Remote and small, it came as a vision with trees


By a weaving stream, brushing the bank

With their violet shade, with somebody’s limbs


Scattered among the matted, mildewed leaves nearby,

With his severed head rolling under the waves


Breaking the shifting columns of light into a swirl

Of slivers and flecks; it came in a language

Untouched by pity, in lines, lavish and dark


Where death is reborn and sent into the world as a gift,

So the future, with no voice of its own, nor hope

Of ever becoming more than it will be, might mourn.



who wrote this

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{ MS 99 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? girl serial killer ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


The city at 3 a.m. is an ungodly mask

the approaching day hides behind

& from, the coyote nosing forth,

the muscles of something ahead,


& a fiery blaze of eighteen-wheelers

zoom out of the curved night trees,

along the rim of absolute chance.

A question hangs in the oily air.


She knows he will follow her scent

left in the poisoned grass & buzz

of chainsaws, if he can unweave

a circle of traps around the subdivision.


For a breathy moment, she stops

on the world’s edge, & then quick as that

masters the stars & again slips the noose

& darts straight between sedans & SUVs.


Don’t try to hide from her kind of blues

or the dead nomads who walked trails

now paved by wanderlust, an epoch

somewhere between tamed & wild.


If it were Monday instead of Sunday

the outcome may be different,

but she’s now in Central Park

searching for a Seneca village

among painted stones & shrubs,

where she’s never been, & lucky

she hasn’t forgotten how to jig

& kill her way home.



who wrote this

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{ YK 94 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? on the run in a slasher flick ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


Chop, hack, slash; chop, hack, slash; cleaver, boning knife, ax—

not even the clumsiest clod of a butcher could do this so crudely,

time, as do you, dismember me, render me, leave me slop in a pail,

one part of my body a hundred years old, one not even there anymore,

another still riven with idiot vigor, voracious as the youth I was

for whom everything always was going too slowly, too slowly.


It was me then who chopped, slashed, through you, across you,

relished you, gorged on you, slugged your invisible liquor down raw.

Now you’re polluted; pulse, clock, calendar taint you, befoul you,

you suck at me, pull at me, barbed wire knots of memory tear me,

my heart hangs, inert, a tag-end of tissue, firing, misfiring,

trying to heave itself back to its other way with you.


But was there ever really any other way with you? When I ran

as though for my life, wasn’t I fleeing from you, or for you?

Wasn’t I frightened you’d fray, leave me nothing but shreds?


Aren’t I still? When I snatch at one of your moments, and clutch it,

a pebble, a planet, isn’t it wearing away in my hand as though I,

not you, were the ocean of acid, the corrosive in I which dissolve?



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{ CKW oo }


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? ? ? ? ? murder at the ole swimming hole ? ? ? ? ? ?


Out in the rippled heat of a neighbor’s field,

In the kilowatts of noon, they’ve got one cornered.


The bugs are jumping, and the burly youths

Strip to the waist for the hot work ahead.


They go to arm themselves at the dry-stone wall,

Having flung down their wet and salty garments

At the feet of a young man whose name is Saul.


He watches sharply these superbly tanned

Figures with a swimmer’s chest and shoulders,

A miler’s thighs, with their self-conscious grace,

And in between their sleek, converging bodies,

Brilliantly oiled and burnished by the sun,

He catches a brief glimpse of bloodied hair

And hears an unintelligible prayer.



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{AH 68 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? quoth the leprecaun ? ? ? ? ? ?


Where far in forest I am laid,

In a place ringed around by stones,

Look for no melancholy shade,

And have no thoughts of buried bones


For I am bodiless and bright,

And fill this glade with sudden glow;

The leaves are washed in under-light;

Shade lies upon the boughs like snow.



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{ RW 57 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? some of the zombies are okay ? ? ? ? ? ?


Dead friends coming back to life, dead family,

speaking languages living and dead, their minds retentive,

their five senses intact, their footprints like a butterfly’s,

mercy shining from their comprehensive faces—

this is one of my favorite things.


I like it so much I sleep all the time.

Moon by day and sun by night find me dispersed

deep in the dreams where they appear.


In fields of goldenrod, in the city of five pyramids,

before the empress with the melting face, under

the towering plane tree, they just show up.

“It’s all right,” they seem to say. “It always was.”


They are diffident and polite.

(Who knew the dead were so polite?)


They don’t want to scare me; their heads don’t spin like weather vanes.

They don’t want to steal my body

and possess the earth and wreak vengeance.


They’re dead, you understand, they don’t exist. And, besides,

why would they care? They’re subatomic, horizontal. Think about it.

One of them shyly offers me a pencil.


The eyes under the eyelids dart faster and faster.


Through the intercom of the house where for so long there was no music,

the right Reverend Al Green is singing,

“I could never see tomorrow.

I was never told about the sorrow.”



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? why are you sitting out on your porch in winter ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


I had been a polar explorer in my youth

and spent countless days and nights freezing

in one blank place and then another. Eventually,

I quit my travels and stayed at home,

and there grew within me a sudden excess of desire,

as if a brilliant stream of light of the sort one sees

within a diamond were passing through me.


I filled page after page with visions of what I had witnessed—

groaning seas of pack ice, giant glaciers, and the windswept white

of icebergs. Then, with nothing more to say, I stopped

and turned my sights on what was near.


Almost at once,

a man wearing a dark coat and broad-brimmed hat

appeared under the trees in front of my house.


The way he stared straight ahead and stood,

not shifting his weight, letting his arms hang down

at his side, made me think that I knew him.

But when I raised my hand to say hello,

he took a step back, turned away, and started to fade

as longing fades until nothing is left of it.



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? ? ? ? ? the dive bar ? ? ? ? ?


Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,


All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home


Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? on nuts, at the asylum ? ? ? ? ? ?


Don’t soak lentils in your mouth.


“Be serious; what’s left to praise?”


The fig tree drops rocks

in the morning and the fig

tree drops figs in the morning.


It’s your new yard, am I right?

New house, 2 kids, and all that.




When a Santa Ana blows fire down the coast

do you run to meet it in a leisure suit

or with a silicon chip?


Does a squirrel stash nuts

of self-pity up its ass?


What are verses for?


And the raisin-light dribbling

in the clerestory faded,

and it was cold


as I backed down the aisle:


“We’ll talk more when you’re off duty.”



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? ? ? ? ? ? are you a bridge ? ? ? ? ? ?


Doty, the rapist and the murderer,

Sleeps in a ditch of fire, and cannot hear;

And where, in earth or hell’s unholy peace,

Men’s suicides will stop, God knows, not I.


Angels and pebbles mock me under trees.

Earth is a door I cannot even face.


Order be damned, I do not want to die,

Even to keep Belaire, Ohio, safe.


The hackles on my neck are fear, not grief.

(Open, dungeon! Open, roof of the ground!)


I hear the last sea in the Ohio grass,

Heaving a tide of gray disastrousness.

Wrinkles of winter



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? he still has your balls cupped & is waiting.

so please turn your head sir ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


I like to see doctors cough.

What kind of human being

would grab all your money

just when you’re down?


I’m not saying they enjoy this:

“Sorry, Mr. Rodriguez, that’s it,

no hope! You might as well

hand over your wallet.” Hell no,

they’d rather be playing golf

and swapping jokes about our feet.


Some of them smoke marijuana

and are alcoholics, and their moral

turpitude is famous: who gets to see

most sex organs in the world? Not

poets. With the hours they keep

they need drugs more than anyone.


Germ city, there’s no hope

looking down those fire-engine throats.

They’re bound to get sick themselves

sometime; and I happen to be there

myself in a high fever

taking my plastic medicine seriously

with the doctors, who are dying.



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? ? ? ? ? ? on the merry go round ? ? ? ? ? ?


This is not what I meant


Stucco arches, the banked rocks sunning in rows,

Bald eyes or petrified eggs,


Grownups coffined in stockings and jackets,

Lard-pale, sipping the thin

Air like a medicine.


The stopped horse on his chromium pole

Stares through us; his hooves chew the breeze.


Your shirt of crisp linen

Bloats like a spinnaker. Hat brims

Deflect the watery dazzle; the people idle

As if in hospital.


I can smell the salt, all right.

At our feet, the weed-mustachioed sea

Exhibits its glaucous silks,

Bowing and truckling like an old-school oriental.


You’re no happier than I about it.



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{ SP 82 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? at the U2 concert ? ? ? ? ??


There’s a jolt, quasi-electric,

when one of our myths

reverts to abstraction.


Now we all know

every name’s Eurydice,

briefly returned

from blankness

and the way back

won’t bear scrutiny.


High voices

over rapid-pulsing synthesizers

intone, “without you” --

which is soothing.


We prefer meta-significance:

the way the clouds exchange

white scraps

in glory.


No more wishes.

No more bungalows

behind car-washes

painted the color of

swimming pools



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? in the hostel bunk dorm room ? ? ? ? ?


Meanwhile the eighty-watt bulb

betrays us all,

discovering the concern

within our stupefaction;

lighting as well on heads

of tacks in the wallpaper,

on a paper wall-pocket,

violet-embossed, glistening

with mica flakes.


It exposes the fine white hair,

the gown with the undershirt

showing at the neck,

the pallid palm-leaf fan

she holds but cannot wield,

her white disordered sheets

like wilted roses.


Clutter of trophies,

chamber of bleached flags!

-Rags or ragged garments

hung on the chairs and hooks

each contributing its

shade of white, confusing

as undazzling.



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? ? ? ? ? ? first day in the high school gym shower ? ? ? ? ? ?


Look she said this is not the distance

we wanted to stay at—We wanted to get

close, very close. But what

is the way in again? And is it

too late? She could hear the actions

rushing past—but they are on

another track. And in the silence,

or whatever it is that follows,

there was still the buzzing: motes, spores,

aftereffects and whatnot recalled the morning after.

Then the thickness you can’t get past called waiting.

Then the you, whoever you are, peering down to see if it’s

done yet.

Then just the look on things being looked-at.

then just the look of things being seen



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? ? ? ? ?? that is one quiet house ? ? ? ?? ? ?


A hush is on the house,

The only noise, a fern

Rustling in a vase.



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? ? ? ? ? memphis. hear me roar ? ? ? ? ? ?


There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.


There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.


There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.


There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.


There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.


There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone


warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.’



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? ? ? ? ? ? another day in the retirement community ? ? ? ? ? ?


The day gets slowly started.

A rap at the bedroom door,

bitter coffee, hot cereal, juice

the color of sun which

isn’t out this morning. A

cool shower, a shave, soothing

Noxzema for razor burn. A bed

is made. The paper doesn’t come

until twelve or one. A gray shine

out the windows. “No one

leaves the building until

those scissors are returned.”

It’s that kind of a place.


Nonetheless, I’ve seen worse.

The worried gray is melting

into sunlight. I wish I’d

brought my book of enlightening

literary essays. I wish it

were lunch time. I wish I had

an appetite. The day agrees

with me better than it did, or,

better, I agree with it. I’ll

slide down a sunslip yet, this

crass September morning.



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? ? ? ? ? ? skiing accident ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


is it winter again, is it cold again,

didn’t Frank just slip on the ice,

didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted


didn’t the night end,

didn’t the melting ice

flood the narrow gutters


wasn’t my body

rescued, wasn’t it safe


didn’t the scar form, invisible

above the injury

terror and cold,


didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden

harrowed and planted-


I remember how the earth felt


I can’t hear your voice

for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground


I no longer care

what sound it makes


when was I silenced, when did it first seem

pointless to describe that sound


what it sounds like can’t change what it is-



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{ LG 93 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? i hate when they ice skate across my lake ? ? ? ? ? ?


You see, they have no judgment.


So it is natural that they should drown,

first the ice taking them in

and then, all winter, their wool scarves

floating behind them as they sink

until at last they are quiet.

And the pond lifts them in its manifold dark arms.


But death must come to them differently,

so close to the beginning.

As though they had always been

blind and weightless. Therefore

the rest is dreamed, the lamp,

the good white cloth that covered the table,

their bodies.


And yet they hear the names they used

like lures slipping over the pond:

What are you waiting for

come home, come home, lost

in the waters, blue and permanent.



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? ? ? ? ? ? who broke the pool again ? ? ? ? ?


He crawls to the edge of the foaming creek

He backs up the slab ledge

He puts a finger in the water

He turns to a trapped pool

Puts both hands in the water

Puts one foot in the pool

Drops pebbles in the pool

He slaps the water surface with both hands

He cries out, rises up and stands

Facing toward the torrent and the mountain

Raises up both hands and shouts three times!



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? ? ? ? ? ? mama otter ? ? ? ? ?


crisply unhousing the parts, laying the

fierce shell on one side, the

soft body on the other. She gave us

lots, because we loved it so much,

so there was always enough, a mound of crab like a

cross between breast-milk and meat.


The back even had the shape of a perfect

ruined breast, upright flakes

white as the flesh of a chrysanthemum, but the

best part was the claw, she’d slide it

out so slowly the tip was unbroken,

scarlet bulb of the feeler—it was such a

kick to easily eat that weapon,

wreck its delicate hooked pulp between

palate and tongue.


She loved to feed us

and all she gave us was fresh, she was willing to

grasp shell, membrane, stem, to go

close to dirt and salt to feed us



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? ? ? ? ?? ? happy dairy cow in the pasture ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


Just past dawn, the sun stands

with its heavy red head

in a black stanchion of trees,

waiting for someone to come

with his bucket

for the foamy white light,

and then a long day in the pasture.


I too spend my days grazing,

feasting on every green moment

till darkness calls,

and with the others

I walk away into the night,

swinging the little tin bell

of my name.



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? ? ? ? ? ? a timberwolf’s lament ? ? ? ? ? ?


Nightfall, that saw the morning-glories float

Tendril and string against the crumbling wall,

Nurses him now, his skeleton for grief,

His locks for comfort curled among the leaf.

Shuttles of moonlight weave his shadow tall,

Milkweed and dew flow upward to his throat.


Now catbird feathers plume the apple mound,

And starlings drowse to winter up the ground.

thickened away from speech by fear, I move

Around the body. Over his forepaws, steep


Declivities darken down the moonlight now,

And the long throat that bayed a year ago

Declines from summer. Flies would love to leap

Between his eyes and hum away the space

Between the ears, the hollow where a hare

Could hide; another jealous dog would tumble

The bones apart, angry, the shining crumble

Of a great body gleaming in the air;

Quivering pigeons foul his broken face.


I can imagine men who search the earth

For handy resurrections, overturn

The body of a beetle in its grave;

Whispering men digging for gods might delve

A pocket for these bones, then slowly burn

Twigs in the leaves, pray for another birth.


But I will turn my face away from this

Ruin of summer, collapse of fur and bone.


For once a white hare huddled up the grass,

The sparrows flocked away to see the race.

I stood on darkness, clinging to a stone,

I saw the two leaping alive on ice,

On earth, on leaf, humus and withered vine:

The rabbit splendid in a shroud of shade,

The dog carved on the sunlight, on the air,

Fierce and magnificent his rippled hair,

The cockleburs shaking around his head.


Then, suddenly, the hare leaped beyond pain

Out of the open meadow, and the hound

Followed the voiceless dancer to the moon,

To dark, to death, to other meadows where

Singing young women dance around a fire,

Where love reveres the living.


I alone Scatter this hulk about the dampened ground;

And while the moon rises beyond me, throw

The ribs and spine out of their perfect shape.


For a last charm to the dead, I lift the skull

And toss it over the maples like a ball.

Strewn to the woods, now may that spirit sleep

That flamed over the ground a year ago.


I know the mole will heave a shinbone over,

The earthworm snuggle for a nap on paws,

The honest bees build honey in the head;

The earth knows how to handle the great dead

Who lived the body out, and broke its laws,

Knocked down a fence, tore up a field of clover.



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? ? ? ? ? ? the best beach dog ? ? ? ? ?


I came before the water —-

Colorists came to get the

Good of the Cape light that scours

Sand grit to sided crystal

And buffs and sleeks the blunt hulls

Of the three fishing smacks beached

On the bank of the river’s

Backtracking tail.


I’d come for Free fish-bait: the blue mussels

Clumped like bulbs at the grassroot

Margin of the tidal pools.


Dawn tide stood dead low. I smelt

Mud stench, shell guts, gulls’ leavings;

Heard a queer crusty scrabble

Cease, and I neared the silenced

Edge of a cratered pool-bed.


The mussels hung dull blue and

Conspicuous, yet it seemed

A sly world’s hinges had swung

Shut against me. All held still.

Though I counted scant seconds,


In the wary other world

Eyeing me. Grass put forth claws,

Small mud knobs, nudged from under,

Displaced their domes as tiny

Knights might doff their casques. The crabs


Inched from their pygmy burrows

And from the trench-dug mud, all Camouflaged in mottled mail

Of browns and greens. Each wore one

Claw swollen to a shield large

As itself—no fiddler’s arm

Grown Gargantuan by trade,


But grown grimly, and grimly

Borne, for a use beyond my

Guessing of it. Sibilant

Mass-motived hordes, they sidled

Out in a converging stream

Toward the pool-mouth, perhaps to

Meet the thin and sluggish thread

Of sea retracing its tide-

Way up the river-basin.


Or to avoid me. They moved

Obliquely with a dry-wet

Sound, with a glittery wisp

And trickle. Could they feel mud

So the crabs

Went about their business,

& i went for blue



The husk of a fiddler-crab,

Intact, strangely strayed above

His world of mud—green color

And innards bleached out blown off

Somewhere by much sun and wind;

There was no telling if he’d

Died recluse of suicide

Or headstrong Columbus crab.

The crab-face, etched and set there,


Grimaced as skulls grimace: it

Had an Oriental look,

A samurai death mask done

On a tiger tooth, less for

Art’s sake than God’s. Far from sea —-

Where red-freckled crab-backs, claws

And whole crabs, dead, their soggy

Bellies pallid and upturned,

Perform their shambling waltzes

On the waves’ dissolving turn

And return, losing themselves

Bit by bit to their friendly

Element—this relic saved

Face, to face the bald-faced sun.



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? ? ? ? ? ? they still shit the worst tho ? ? ? ? ? ?


You do not have to be good.


You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.


Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.


Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.


Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.


Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.



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? ? ? ? ? ? pt barnum ? ? ? ? ? ?


Kilroy, beware. ‘HOME’ is the final trap

That lurks for you in many a wily shape:


In pipe-and-slippers plus a Loyal Hound

Or fooling around, just fooling around.


Kind to the old (their warm Penelope)

But fierce to boys thus ‘home’ becomes that sea,


Horribly disguised, where you were always drowned-

(How could suburban Crete condone


The yarns you would have V-mailed from the sun?)-

And folksy fishes sip Icarian tea.


One stab of hopeless wings imprinted your

Exultant Kilroy-signature


Upon sheer sky for all the world to stare:

‘I was there! I was there! I was there!’


God is like Kilroy. He, too, sees it all;

That’s how He knows of every sparrow’s fall;


That’s why we prayed each time the tightropes cracked

On which our loveliest clowns contrived their act.



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? ? ? ? ? ? the circus ring’s dark side ? ? ? ? ? ?



This is newness : every little tawdry

Obstacle glass-wrapped and peculiar,

Glinting and clinking in a saint’s falsetto. Only you

Don’t know what to make of the sudden slippiness,

The blind, white, awful, inaccessible slant.


There’s no getting up it by the words you know.

No getting up by elephant or wheel or shoe.


We have only come to look. You are too new

To want the world in a glass hat.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? crystal ball gypsy fortune teller ? ? ? ? ? ?



Tea leaves I’ve given up,

And that crooked line

On the queen’s palm

Is no more my concern.

On my black pilgrimage

This moon-pocked crystal ball

Will break before it help;

Rather than croak out

What’s to come,

My darling ravens are flown.


‘Forswear those freezing tricks of sight

And all else I’ve taught

Against the flower in the blood:

Not wealth nor wisdom stands

Above the simple vein,

The straight mouth.

Go to your greenhorn youth

Before time ends

And do good

With your white hands.’



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? ? ? ? ? ? magician’s assistant ? ? ? ?? ? ?



This was not

what I had in mind when he pressed up through me like a

sealed trunk through the ice of the Hudson,

snapped the padlock, unsnaked the chains,

and appeared in my arms. Now he looks at me

the way Houdini studied a box

to learn the way out, then smiled

and let himself be manacled.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? bird lady ? ? ? ? ?



The parrot, screeching, flew out into the darkness,

Circled three times above the upturned faces

With a great whir of brilliant outspread wings,

And then returned to stagger on her finger.


She bowed and smiled, eliciting applause…

The property man hated her dirty birds.


But it had taken years—yes, years—to train them,

To shoulder flags, strike bells by tweaking strings,

Or climb sedately little flights of stairs.


When they were stubborn, she tapped them with a wand,

And her eyes glittered a little under the eyebrows.


The red one flapped and flapped on a swinging wire;

The little white ones winked round yellow eyes.



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? ? ? ? ? ? wisconsin carneys ? ? ?? ? ? ? ?



“What is that gold-green tetrahedron down the river?”

“You are experiencing a new sensation.”


a commingling sky

a semi-tropic night

that cast the blackest shadow

of the easily torn, untrembling banana leaf


or Quebec! what a horrible city

so Steubenville is better?


the sinking sensation

the sinuous beauty of words like allergy


if the touch-me-nots

are not in bloom

neither are the chrysanthemums

the bales of pink cotton candy

in the slanting light

are ornamental cherry trees.


The greens around them, and

the browns, the grays, are the park.

It’s. Hmm. No.

Their scallop shell of quiet

is the S.S. United States.


It is not so quiet and they

are a medium-size couple who

when they fold each other up

well, thrill. That’s their story.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? love cats. hate the news ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



We love our cat

for her self

regard is assiduous

and bland,


for she sits in the small

patch of sun on our rug

and licks her claws

from all angles


and it is far


to “balanced reporting”


though, of course,

it is also

the very same thing.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? dairy farmer. never did talk much ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



For the Poem Paterson [1. Detail]


Her milk don’t seem to . .

She’s always hungry but . .

She seems to gain all right,

I don’t know.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? her violin weeps ? ? ? ? ? ? ??



A rough sound was polished until it became

a smoother sound, which was polished until

it became music.


Then the music was polished until

it became the memory of a night in Venice

when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs,

which in turn was polished until it ceased

to be and in its place stood the empty home

of a heart in trouble.


Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back

and traffic was moving and off in the distance,

at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared,

and there was thunder, which, however menacing,

would become music, and the memory of what happened after

Venice would begin, and what happened

after the home of the troubled heart

broke in two would also begin.



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? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? italian art trader ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



I sit where I always sit, in back of the Buddha,

Red leather wing chair, pony skin trunk

under my feet,

Sky light above me, Chinese and Indian rugs on the floor.


1 March, 1998, where to begin again?


Over there’s the ur-photograph,

Giorgio Morandi, glasses pushed up on his forehead,

Looking hard at four objects—

Two olive oil tins, one wine bottle, one flower vase,

A universe of form and structure,


The universe constricting in front of his eyes,

angelic orders

And applications scraped down

To paint on an easel stand, some in the frame, some not.

Bologna, my friend, Bologna, world’s bit and world’s end.



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? ? ? ? ? ? we chinese invented fruit vending, you know ? ? ? ? ? ?



Arranged by two’s as peaches are,

at intervals that all may live—

eight and a single one, on twigs that

grew the year before—they look like

a derivative;

although not uncommonly

the opposite is seen—

nine peaches on a nectarine.


Fuzzless through slender crescent leaves

of green or blue or

both, in the Chinese style, the four


pairs’ half-moon leaf-mosaic turns

out to the sun the sprinkled blush

of puce-American-Beauty pink

applied to bees-wax gray by the

uninquiring brush

of mercantile bookbinding.


Like the peach Yu , the red-

cheeked peach which cannot aid the dead,

but eaten in time prevents death,

‘the Italian peach-nut, Persian plum, Ispahan

secluded wall-grown nectarine,

as wild spontaneous fruit was

found in China first. But was it wild?


Prudent de Candolle would not say.

One perceives no flaws

in this emblematic group

of nine, or Iceland horse

or ass asleep against the old

thick, low-leaning nectarine that is the

color of the shrub-tree’s brownish



A Chinese “understands

the spirit of the wilderness”

and the nectarine-loving kylin

of pony appearance—the long-

tailed or the tailless

small cinnamon-brown, common

camel-haired unicorn

with antelope feet and no horn,

here enameled on porcelain.


It was a Chinese

Who imagined this masterpiece.



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? ? ? ? ? muskrat assassins ? ? ? ? ? ?



i can’t imagine and a pain I don’t know. We had

To go on living. We

Untangled the net, we slit

The body of this fish

Open from the hinge of the tail

To a place beneath the chin

I wish I could sing of.


I would just as soon we let

The living go on living.

An old poet whom we believe in

Said the same thing, and so

We paused among the dark cattails and prayed

For the muskrats,

For the ripples below their tails,

For the little movements that we knew

the crawdads were making

under water


We prayed for the game warden’s blindness.

We prayed for the road home.

We ate the fish.


There must be something very beautiful in my body,

I am so happy.



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? ? ? ? ? vikings ? or gangbangers? maybe ? ? ? ? ? ?


We had a dog.

We could have got other dogs.

Two or three dogs could have taken turns running and dragging down

Those fleet lights, whose tails must look as mysterious as the

Stars in Los Angeles.


We are men.

It doesn’t even satisfy us

To kill one another.


We are a smear of obscenity

On the lake whose only peace

Is a hole where the moon

Abandoned us, that poor

Girl who can’t leave us alone.


We are men.

We are capable of anything.

We could have killed every one of those deer.

The very moon of lovers tore herself with the agony of a wounded tigress

Out of our side.

We can kill anything.



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? ? ? ? ? ? a taoist fantasy ? ? ? ? ? ?



Ame-no-uzume, “Outrageous Heavenly Woman,” wrapped

the numinous club-moss of Mr. Kagu round her hips, made

a headband from the leaves of nishikigi, bound bamboo

grass for her wristlets, and put a sounding-board down

before the cave where the Sun Goddess stayed.


She danced and she stamped til it echoed around, she

danced like a goddess possessed, pulled out her nipples,

pushed her sash down til she showed herself down below,

and the Plain of High Heaven shook with the laughs and

the cheers and the whistles of thousands of gods who were

gathered to watch.


… Ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto bound up her sleeves with

a cord of heavenly hi-kage vine, tied around her head a

head-band of the heavenly ma-saki vine, bound to-

gether bundles of sasa leaves to hold in her hands, and

overturning a bucket before the heavenly rock-cave

door, stamped resoundingly upon it. Then she became

divinely possessed, exposed her breasts, and pushed

her skirt-band down to her genitals.



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{ gs 75 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? lesbian scrabble nite ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



What if I were turned on by seemingly innocent words such as

“scumble,” “pinky,” or “extrapolate?”


What if I maneuvered conversation in the hope that others would

pronounce these words?


Perhaps the excitement would come from the way the other person

touched them lightly and carelessly with his tongue.


What if “of” were such a hot button?


“Scumble of bushes.”


What if there were a hidden pleasure

in calling one thing

by another’s name?



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{ RA 1o }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? pirate hooker with future vision ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



I am sending back the key

that let me into bluebeard’s study;

because he would make love to me

I am sending back the key;


in his eye’s darkroom I can see

my X-rayed heart, dissected body :

I am sending back the key

that let me into bluebeard’s study.



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{ SP 82 }


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? ? ? ? ? that lifeguard is tooooo handsome ? ? ? ? ? ?



You saved me, you should remember me.


The spring of the year; young men buying tickets for the ferryboats.

Laughter, because the air is full of apple blossoms.


When I woke up, I realized I was capable of the same feeling.


I remember sounds like that from my childhood,

laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful,

something like that.


Lugano. Tables under the apple trees.

Deckhands raising and lowering the colored flags.


And by the lake’s edge, a young man throws his hat into the water;

perhaps his sweetheart has accepted him.

Crucial sounds or gestures like

a track laid down before the larger themes

and then unused, buried.


Islands in the distance. My mother

holding out a plate of little cakes—

as far as I remember, changed

in no detail, the moment

vivid, intact, having never been

exposed to light, so that I woke elated, at my age

hungry for life, utterly confident—


By the tables, patches of new grass, the pale green

pieced into the dark existing ground.


Surely spring has been returned to me, this time

not as a lover but a messenger of death, yet

it is still spring, it is still meant tenderly.



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{ LG 93 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? particle theory physicist ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



If I didn’t need

to do anything,

would I?


Would I oscillate

in two

or three dimensions?


Would I summon

a beholder


and change chirality

for “him”?


A massless particle

passes through the void

with no resistance.


Ask what it means

to pass through the void.


Ask how it differs

from not passing.



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{ RA 1o }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? single moms are the best ? ? ? ? ? ?



One shows me how to lie down in a field of clover.

Another how to slip my hand under her Sunday skirt.

Another how to kiss with a mouth full of blackberries.

Another how to catch fireflies in jar after dark.


Here is a stable with a single black mare

And the proof of God’s existence riding in a red nightgown.

Devil’s child—or whatever she was?

Having the nerve to ask me to go get her a whip.



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{ CS 9o }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? she’s a man eater ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



What well-heeled knuckle-head, straight from the unisex

Hairstylist and bathed in Russian Leather,

Dallies with you these late summer days, Pyrrha,

In your expensive sublet? For whom do you

Slip into something simple by, say, Gucci?


The more fool he who has mapped out for himself

The saline latitudes of incontinent grief.


Dazzled though he be, poor dope, by the golden looks

Your locks fetched up out of a bottle of Clairol,

He will know that the wind changes, the smooth sailing

Is done for, when the breakers wallop him broadside,

When he’s rudderless, dismasted, thoroughly swamped


In that mindless rip-tide that got the best of me

Once, when I ventured on your deeps, Piranha.



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? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? put your neutron in my cloud please ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



And sometimes I feel as if, already,

I am not here-to stand in his thirty-year

sight, and not in love’s sight,

I feel an invisibility


like a neutron in a cloud chamber buried in a mile-long

accelerator, where what cannot

be seen is inferred by what the visible



After the alarm goes off,

I stroke him, my hand feels like a singer

who sings along him, as if it is

his flesh that’s singing, in its full range,

tenor of the higher vertebrae,

baritone, bass, contrabass.


I want to say to him, now, What

was it like, to love me-when you looked at me,

what did you see?


When he loved me, I looked

out at the world as if from inside

a profound dwelling, like a burrow, or a well, I’d gaze

up, at noon, and see Orion

shining-when I thought he loved me, when I thought

we were joined not just for breath’s time,

but for the long continuance,

the hard candies of femur and stone,

the fastnesses. He shows no anger,

I show no anger but in flashes of humor,

all is courtesy and horror. And after

the first minute, when I say, Is this about

her, and he says, No, it’s about

you, we do not speak of her.



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? ? ? ? ? ? skinny dipping ? ? ? ? ? ?



into my empty head there come

a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude

through mist, in chilly solitude.


There was no line, no roof or floor

to tell the water from the air.


Night fog thick as terry cloth

closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.


I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I

went overhand on that flat sky.


Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.

In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim

I hummed a two-four-time slow hymn.


I hummed ‘Abide With Me.’ The beat

rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out

slantwise, trailing through my mouth.



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{ mk 73 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? ? pimp sure. but he knows what is what ? ? ? ? ? ?



I have heard about the civilized,

the marriages run on talk,

elegant and honest, rational. But you and I are

savages. You come in with a bag,

hold it out to me in silence.


I know Moo Shu Pork when I smell it

and understand the message: I have

pleased you greatly last night. We sit

quietly, side by side, to eat,

the long pancakes dangling and spilling,

fragrant sauce dripping out,

and glance at each other askance, wordless,

the corners of our eyes clear as spear points

laid along the sill to show

a friend sits with a friend here.



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{So 13 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? where the treasure is buried ? ? ? ? ? ?



not of silver nor of coral,

but of weatherbeaten laurel.


Here, he introduced a sea

uniform like tapestry;


here, a fig-tree; there, a face;

there, a dragon circling space --


designating here, a bower;

there, a pointed passion-flower.



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{ MM 52 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? trainyard hobo’s lament ?? ? ? ? ? ?



Along the sprawled body

of the derailed Great Northern freight car,

I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly.

No wind.


Beyond town, three heavy white horses

Wade all the way to their shoulders

In a silo shadow.


Suddenly the freight car lurches.

The door slams back, a man with a flashlight

Calls me good evening.


I nod as I write good evening, lonely

And sick for home.



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{ jw 72 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? feel the rhythm ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



That’s the moment when the moon creeps up

To the bubbling of bassoons. That’s the time

One looks at the elephant-colorings of tires.


Everything is shed; and the moon comes up as the moon

(All its images are in the dump) and you see

As a man (not like an image of a man)

You see the moon rise in the empty sky.


One sits and beats an old tin can, lard pail.


One beats and beats for that which one believes.



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? hobo’ette ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



washing hangs upon the line,

but it’s not mine.


None of the things that I can see

belong to me.


The neighbors got a radio with an aerial;

we got a little portable.


They got a lot of closet space;

we got a suitcase.


Le Roy answers with a frown,

“Darling, when I earns I spends.

The world is wide; it still extends….

I’m going to get a job in the next town.”


Le Roy, you’re earning

too much money now.



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{ eb 56 }


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? ? ? ? ? ? because god told him to. obviously ? ? ? ? ? ?



Why did he promise me

that we would build ourselves

an ark all by ourselves

out in back of the house

on New York Avenue

in Union City New Jersey

to the singing of the streetcars

after the story

of Noah whom nobody

believed about the waters

that would rise over everything



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? mermaid of the streets ? ? ? ? ? ?



Now I pass the bums in doorways, the white

slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their

suits of compressed silt, the stained

flippers of their hands, the underwater

fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the

lanterns lit, and I wonder who took it and

took it from them in silence until they had

given it all away and had nothing

left but this.



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? ? ? ? ? ? hobo voyeur ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



I will grieve alone,

As I strolled alone,

years ago, down along

the Ohio shore.


I hid in the hobo jungle weeds

Upstream from the sewer main,

Pondering, gazing.


I saw, down river,

At Twenty-third and Water Streets

By the vinegar works,

The doors open in early evening.


Swinging their purses, the women

Poured down the long street to the river

And into the river.


I do not know how it was

They could drown every evening.

What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore,

Drying their wings?



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? ? ? ? ? ? ? the james bond of hobo’ing ? ? ? ? ?



Erect, with his alert repose

About him, and about his clothes,

He pictured all tradition hears

Of what we owe to fifty years.


His cleansing heritage of taste

Paraded neither want nor waste;

And what he needed for his fee

To live, he borrowed graciously.


He never told us what he was,

Or what mischance, or other cause,

Had banished him from better days

To play the Prince of Castaways.


To several, who, having striven

In vain to get what he was given,

Would see the stranger taken on

By friends not easy to be won.


Moreover, many a malcontent

He soothed and found munificent;

His courtesy beguiled and foiled

Suspicion that his years were soiled;


His mien distinguished any crowd,

His credit strengthened when he bowed;

And women, young and old, were fond

Of looking at the man Flammonde.



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? ? ? ? ? are you sure that was shanghai ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



Return me to the airfield near Shanghai

Where I am very young: shy, apprehensive,

Seated like Sheba on a baggage mountain

Waiting for the first adventure to begin.

The train will glide through fields of rice and men

Bodies like thongs, and glorious genitals



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? ? ? ? ? ? lady, dont be so hard on your brain ? ? ? ? ?



At times it is like watching a face you have just met,

trying to decide who it reminds you of—

no one, surely, whom you ever hated or loved,

but yes, somebody, somebody. You watch the face

as it turns and nods, showing you, at certain angles,

a curve of the lips or a lift of the eyebrow

that is exactly right, and still the lost face

eludes you. Now this face is talking, and you hear

a sound in the voice, the accent on certain words—

yes! a phrase . . . you barely recall sitting outside,

by a pool or a campfire, remarking

a peculiar, recurring expression.


Two syllables, wasn’t it?

Doorknob? Bathroom? Shawcross? What the hell

kind of word is shawcross? A name; not the right one.

A couple of syllables that could possibly be

a little like something you may once have heard.

So the talk drifts, and you drift, sneaking glances,

pounding your brain.


Days later a face occurs to you,

and yes, there is a resemblance. That odd word, though,

or phrase, is gone. It must have been somebody else.

Yes, it’s like that, at times; something is, maybe;

and there are days when you can almost say what it is.



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? ? ? ? ? ? cocktails at santas ? ? ? ? ? ? ?



Why wouldn’t you want a fresh piece

of outlook to stand in down the years?


See, your house, a former human energy construction,

crashed with us for a few days in May

and sure enough, the polar inscape

brought about some easier poems,

which I guessed was a good thing.


At least some of us were relaxed, Steamboat Bill included.

He didn’t drink nothing.

It was one thing

to be ready for their challenge, quite another to accept it.


And if I had a piece of advice for you, this is it:

Poke fun at balm, then suffer lethargy

to irradiate its shallow flood in the new packaging

our enemies processed. They should know.


The Gold Dust Twins never stopped supplicating Hoosiers

to limn the trail. There’s no Shakespeare.


Through the window, Casanova.

Couldn’t get to sleep in the dumb incident

of those days, crimping the frozen feet of Lincoln.



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? ? ? ? ? ? devil says ? ? ? ? ? ?



Because I am the bullet

That has gone through everyone already,

I thought of you long before you thought of me.


Each one of you still keeps a blood-stained handkerchief

In which to swaddle me, but it stays empty

And even the wind won’t remain in it long.


Cleverly you’ve invented name after name for me,

Mixed the riddles, garbled the proverbs,

Shook you loaded dice in a tin cup,


But I do not answer back even to your curses,

For I am nearer to you than your breath.


One sun shines on us both through a crack in the roof.

A spoon brings me through the window at dawn.

A plate shows me off to the four walls

While with my tail I swing at the flies.


But there’s no tail and the flies are your thoughts.


Steadily, patiently I life your arms.

I arrange them in the posture of someone drowning,

And yet the sea in which you are sinking,

And even this night above it, is myself.



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CS 19




Carl Sandburg



native of


rural Illinois; way west.

almost to Iowa


born & raised in Galesburg, Illinois



last seen


West Point, NY & Puerto Rico


Kansas & Denver

Omaha & Milwaukee

Harbert, Michigan

& all across Chicagoland


Connemara, North Carolina; 246-acres

‘Flat Rock’ – where he wrote & died





self-styled hobo, for life


milk wagon driver – at 13

porter at the Union Hotel


the milk route again


wheat farm laborer on the Kansas plains

hotel servant in Denver

coal-heaver in Omaha

- & not yet 2o


journalist – ‘the Chicago Daily News’


soldier – 6th Illinois Infantry. in Puerto Rico during the Spanish–American War;

also attended West Point for two weeks


socialist – joined the Party & served as secretary to Emil Seidel, America’s premier socialist politician


civil rights Prophet – the first white man honored by the NAACP. the organization’s Silver Plaque Award was given to a “major prophet of civil rights in our time”


the one American writer who distinguished himself in five fields:

poetry, history, biography, fiction & music


writer – of novels, children’s books & film reviews

editor – of collections of ballads & folklore


biographer – his ‘Abraham Lincoln: The War Years’ is epic.

He reads nearly everything ever published

spends 3o years collecting & classifying

stores extra material in a barn

& spends fifteen years banging away

hunched over a cracker-box typewriter

it sprawls 15o,ooo words longer

than the complete writings of Shakespeare!


also a musician – who toured with a guitar, like a folk singer


‘what I want out of life?’ he once reflected.


‘to be out of jail … to eat regular … to get what I write printed … a little love at home & a little affection over the American landscape … to sing every day … & Emerson in every room.’





1918 – Poetry

194o – History/Biography

1951 – Poetry



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Edwin Arlington Robinson



native of


born in Maine

educated in Cambridge, Mass. at Harvard



last seen


Boston & New York City

died in New Hampshire





rural farmer – growing up


single-minded impoverished urban writer – published virtually nothing in his life except poetry


personally hired by the president – Theodore Roosevelt got him a desk in the New York Customs Office & a regular stipend & instructed him: ‘help American letters’


inspiration – 3x Pulitzer winner; legendarily the man the award was created for










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Edna St. Vincent Millay



native of


born in Maine


educated in Poughkeepsie, NY

& lived on a blueberry farm near Austerlitz NY


summer home was Casco, Maine



last seen




& living it up in Greenwich Village, NYC

during its very earliest days






bohemian writer till death



1923 Pulitzer



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Robert Frost



native of


San Francisco


raised in Lawrence, Mass.

lived in Cambridge, Mass.

& Amherst, Mass.


died in Boston



last seen


Great Dismal Swamp, Va.


Beaconsfield, England

- a small town outside London


Derry, NH & Franconia, NH

- on famous farms


Ripton, Vt. – at his famous Bread Loaf school


also: Ann Arbor, Mich.

South Miami & Key West, Fla.






assistant teacher – in his mother’s class


newspaper delivery boy


factory worker – maintaining carbon arc lamps


farmer – for decades


teacher – incl. 42 years in Ripton at Bread Loaf


on his gravestone:


I had a lover’s quarrel

with the world



Pulitzers – in three different decades!



1931 & 1937




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Amy Lowell



native of / last seen


Brookline, Mass. – born

Brookline, Mass. – raised

Brookline, Mass. – lived

Brookline, Mass. – died





high school graduate – never attends college. her family didn’t consider it appropriate, for a woman


chain smoker – of cigars. ‘they last longer than cigarettes’ she says


rebel fashionista – wore a prince nez & argued against feminism


late bloomer – first poem published at 36


frantically inspired – went on to publish 65o in 12 years time; over 1 per week



1926 Pulitzer



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Leonora Speyer


native of / last seen


born in Washington DC

studied music in Brussels, Paris & Leipzig

married in Paris

& married again in London

lived & died in New York City





professional violinist – tours the world; performing under the batons of many great conductors.



1927 Pulitzer



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Conrad Aiken



native of


born & raised in Savannah, Ga.

& also at Grandma’s House, in Massachusetts

graduated Harvard; Cambridge, Mass.


last seen


Rye, East Sussex; England

Capitol Hill, Washington DC; 2nd st. SE


died in Savannah





tragic youth – his father killed his mother & himself. Conrad was raised by his grandmother.


full time writer & editor – more than 5o books. incl. Emily Dickinson’s first collections


caretaker – adopted & cared for poet Malcolm Lowry




memorialized – his tomb on the Wilmington River is mentioned in John Berendt’s ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil’. It is shaped like a bench, as an invitation to stop and enjoy a martini. It is inscribed:


Give my love to the world


Cosmos Mariner

– Destination Unknown



193o Pulitzer



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John Gould Fletcher



native of


Little Rock, Arkansas


longtime home is ‘Johnswood’

- high in bluffs on the Arkansas river


Travels east & west touring much

of the American West & South



last seen


Cambridge, Mass

England – extensively

& New York City – whenever possible





son of the south – first true southern Pulitzer winner


tragedy – suffers depression & commits suicide; drowning himself, at 64



1939 Pulitzer



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Mark Van Doren



native of


born in Vermilion County, Illinois

educated in Urbana, at U. Illinois



last seen


Manhattan at Columbia U.

& then more Manhattan, still


died in Torrington, Conn.





farmboy – growing up; west of Indianapolis


guiding light – at Columbia U. for four decades.


students include:

Pulitzer winners John Berryman & Louis Simpson

Beat poets Jack Kerouac & Allen Ginsburg

renounced-communist-spy Whittaker Chambers

priest monk buddhist writer Thomas Merton

& hermit poet Robert Lax


younger brother – Carl Van Doren precedes him at Columbia & also wins a Pulitzer, in Biography for ‘Benjamin Franklin’


father – Mark’s son, Charles Van Doren, achieves renown by winning the rigged game show ‘Twenty One’


member of the Society for the Prevention of World War III


overheard on the radio – discussing great literature on CBS’ ‘Invitation to Learning’


literary editor – ‘The Nation’


film critic & playwright: ‘Last Days of Lincoln’



194o Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Leonard Bacon



native of


born in Solvay, NY

educated in New Haven, Conn. at Yale



last seen


Florence, Italy

Berkeley, Calif.

Peace Dale, Rhode Island

where he died





teacher – at Berkeley, 15 years


late bloomer – began publishing poetry after retiring


translator – one of america’s greatest. First to put the French epic ‘Chanson de Roland’

& the Spanish poem ‘El Cid’ into English!



1941 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










William Rose Benét



native of


born in Brooklyn


educated in Albany, NY

& New Haven, Conn.


artists colony/collective

in New Hampshire


died in NYC





piss poor husband – married four times; his longest run – 9 years


brother – of novelist poet & two-time Pulitzer winner Steven Vincent Benet


novelist & literary editor – produced ‘The Reader’s Encyclopedia’


founder & editor – the ‘Saturday Review of Literature’



1942 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV



native of


Boston, born & raised


educated in Cambridge, Mass.

Nashville & Baton Rouge



last seen


regular prison – on West Street, NYC

federal prison – Danbury, Conn.


also: Ames, Iowa

& Cincinnati

New Haven, Conn.


Greenwich Village

& larger Manhattan





war-torn – His grandfather was a Civil War hero. His father was a Commander. His uncle was a federal judge. Robert IV was a conscientious objector.


jailbird – in prison during World War II


protestor – prominently during the Vietnam War; famously rejecting an invitation from President Lyndon Johnson


poetry in the blood – related to Pulitzer winner Amy Lowell


academic – U. Iowa Writer’s Workshop; the New School, in Greenwich Village;

Yale & Harvard universities; & the U. Cincinnati


stressed out – on his way to see his ex-wife, suffered a heart attack in a NYC cab & died.



1947 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






wha 48




W. H. Auden



native of


York, England

raised in Birmingham, England


also: counties Worcestershire

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire

London, Oxford & Colwall


& Helensburgh, in Scotland



last seen


Berlin & Brussels

Spain, at war

Germany, post war

Iceland & China


Ann Arbor, Michigan

Swarthmore, Pa.

Manhattan’s East Village


the Island of Ischia, near Naples, Italy

Kirchstetten, Austria – during summers

died in Vienna





teacher – at all levels


documentary film-maker – for the British post office


ambulance driver & propagandist – for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War


U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey – studying post-war morale in Germany


left-wing political writer & playwright


collaborator – on plays, songs & a libretto with pianist Benjamin Britten; on plays with lover Christopher Isherwood; on opera libretti, with lover & poet Chester Kallman


emigrant – settled in Manhattan & became a citizen in 1946



1948 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Peter Viereck




native of


New York, born & raised



last seen


Oxford, England

World War II Europe

Florence, Italy



& all around Massachusetts


educated in Cambridge, Mass.

also: North Hampton, Mass.

died in South Hadley, Mass.





patriot – his father was a journalist, a German saboteur during World War I & a Nazi propagandist in WW II. He was eventually imprisoned.


But Peter was a soldier & served with distinction in the US army, won two battle stars

& denounced Senator Joe McCarthy


professional student – - a Harvard triple grad!

Harvard B.A.

Harvard M.A.

Harvard Ph.D.

also: Oxford

& a Fulbright Scholar, U. Florence


historian & poet – the only American to win Pulitzers for both


history professor – five decades at Mount Holyoke College



1949 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






GB 5o




Gwendolyn Brooks



native of


Topeka, Kansas



last seen


Chicago – as a baby, during the Great Migration


Madison, Wisc. & New York City, briefly


Chicago – till death.





brains – her mother was a classically-trained pianist who couldn’t afford medical school


integrating Chicago – attended All-White Hyde Park high school

transferred to All-Black Wendell Phillips

then split the difference, at integrated Englewood


writer from the earliest – never bothered with college. ‘I know what I want to do & I am not a scholar. I’m just a writer who loves to write and will always write.”


typist – while she writes


chicagoan till chicago end – ‘I am an organic Chicagoan,’ she says. ‘Living here has given me a multiplicity & aspirations. I hope to live here the rest of my days. That’s my headquarters’


teacher – U. Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois U. & Chicago State U. Also nearby U.Wisconsin-Madison. Further afield: Columbia U. & College of New York.


Poet Laureate of Illinois – for 33 years; until death


first black U.S. Poet Laureate

consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress


first black person to win the poetry Pulitzer

& first black woman to win any Pulitzer



195o Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Marianne Moore



native of


Kirkwood, Missouri



last seen



Carlisle, Pa.

Chatham, New Jersey

Lake Placid, NY


& Greenwich Village, NYC

where she died





serving girl – at Lake Placid Club


teacher – Carlisle Indian Industrial School (Pa.)

- the nation’s premier Indian boarding school


part-time librarian


editor – ‘The Dial’ magazine


failed advertising copywriter - invited to name Ford’s E-Car - ‘who better to understand the nature of words than a poet?’- Moore didn’t even bother to develop E-Names.


Her final list included:

Resilient Bullet

Ford Silver Sword

Mongoose Civique

Varsity Stroke


Andante con Moto

Utopian Turtletop


Ford went with ‘Edsel’


cultural celebrity & arbiter of taste – famous black hat & cape. Wrote liner notes for Muhammad Ali’s ‘I Am the Greatest!’ spoken word album. Wrote to & visited Ezra Pound in prison


baseball fan – threw the first pitch of the 1968 season at Yankee Stadium, then suffered a stroke & died



1952 Pulitzer



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Theodore Roethke



native of


Saginaw, Mich.


educated in Ann Arbor, Mich.

teaches in East Lansing, Mich.



last seen


Europe, traveling on a Fulbright


also: Cambridge, Mass.

Easton, Pa. & Bennington, Vt.


died on Bainbridge Island, Wash.





child of tragedy – his father was a German immigrant who ran a 25-acre greenhouse with an uncle. When Theodore was 14 his father died of cancer & his uncle committed suicide.


child of the depression – driven from graduate studies at U. Michigan & Harvard


teacher – Lafayette College; Michigan State U.; Pennsylvania State U.; Bennington College & U. Washington


great mentor – two of his students win Pulitzers: James Wright & Carolyn Kinzer. Two others are nominated.


tragic death – suffers a heart attack in his friend’s pool, at the age of 55. The pool is filled in as a memorial zen rock garden on Bainbridge Island.



1954 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Wallace Stevens



native of


born in Reading, Pennsylvania



last seen


Cambridge, Mass. – attends Harvard

NYC – law school

Key West – for vacation


longtime home in Hartford, Conn.

where he died





journalist – leaves Harvard without a degree in 19oo to work as a reporter for ‘the New York Tribune’


insurance executive – most of his life, in Hartford.


late bloomer – 35 when his first poem is published & 44 when his first collection goes to print.


cant handle liquor. not a good fighter – drunk in Key West; makes trouble for Robert Frost – who complains. drunk in Key West; takes a swing at Ernest Hemingway, who beats his ass.



1955 Pulitzer



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Elizabeth Bishop



native of


born in Worcester, Mass.


Great Village, Novia Scotia Canada – adopted by grandparents

back to Worcester, Mass. – to live an upscale life with father’s in-laws

Revere, Mass. – mother’s in-laws; tenement housing


educated in Saugus, Mass.

& Swampscott, Mass.

& Poughkeepsie, NY



last seen


France & South America; extensively


New York, at Cornell Medical School

Georgetown, in Washington DC

Key West, near Hemingway’s house

died in Boston





tragic youth – Her father dies when she is an infant. Her mother goes mad & is committed.


farmer & fisherwoman – passed between grandparents & in-laws on both sides. Spends her early days on a farm in novia scotia


drifter – flirts with & shuffles thru an half-dozen schools


musician – plans to be a composer


founder – rebel literary magazine ‘Con Spirito’


trust fund baby – inheritance lasts most of her life. She uses it (frugally) to travel & write; tho she only publishes 101 poems during her lifetime – just under 1.5 per year


explorer – sets out to circumnavigate South America & ends up in Brazil for 15 years


translator – incl. much Latin poetry


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1956 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Richard Purdy Wilbur



native of



grew up in North Caldwell, NJ



last seen


World War II Europe


Amherst, Mass.

Cambridge, Mass.

Wellesley, Mass.


Washington DC

Key West, Fla.





prodigy – first published poetry at the age of 8 in ‘John Martin’s’ magazine


student journalist – grandfather & great-grandfather were editors. His first book appears at 26.


solider – serves in the Army during World War II


teacher – Wellesley & Amherst colleges


children’s book author


translator – French verse, especially. incl. Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ & plays by Jean Racine. His translation of Moliere’s ‘Tartuffe’ wins the Bollingen Prize (1971)


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



Pulitzers: 1957 & 1989



– back to the Table of Contents –










Robert Penn Warren



native of


Guthrie, Kentucky

- born near the Tennessee border


educated in Clarksville, Tenn.

& Nashville, at Vanderbilt U.



last seen


New Haven, Conn. – Yale grad

Berkeley, Calif. – M.A.

Oxford, England – Rhodes Scholar


Prairieville & Baton Rouge, La.


Washington DC

Fairfield, Conn.

Stratton, Vt., where he died





fiction writer – only American to win Pulitzers for fiction & poetry


academic writer – influential textbooks on literature & writing


teacher – while a professor at Louisiana State U. Warren writes ‘All the King’s Men’; loosely based on the state’s governor. The novel wins a Pulitzer & becomes a movie & opera.


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress




1947 Fiction

1958 Poetry

1979 Poetry



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Stanley Jasspon Kunitz



native of


born in Worcester, Mass.

lived in Provincetown, Mass.

B.A. & M.A. from Harvard (Cambridge, Mass.)



last seen


Seattle & Gravely Point, Washington


all over the east coast

New Hope, Pa.

Bennington, Vt.

New Brunswick, NJ

New Haven, Conn.

Washington DC


& all over New York;

Potsdam & Poughkeepsie & Queens.

he died in Manhattan





born tragic – after going bankrupt, his father commits suicide in a public park; drinking carbolic acid – just six weeks before Stanley’s birth


butcher’s assistant – after moving out at 15


reporter – at ‘The Worcester Telegram’


editor for the H. W. Wilson Company, NYC. Publishes studies, series & bulletins, reference works & biographies


conscientious objector – to World War II


soldier – Air Transport Command; handles information & education. Fails basic training three times. Discharged as staff sergeant.


academic – Bennington College; U. Washington; Queens College; Vassar College; Brandeis, Yale & Rutgers; New York State Teachers College; Manhattan’s New School for Social Research; Columbia U. for more than two decades


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1959 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










William De Witt Snodgrass



native of


Beaver Falls, Pa. – born

Wilkinsburg, Pa. – raised

Ames, Iowa – State U. of Iowa, MFA




last seen


Norfolk, Va.

Newark, Del.

Ithaca & Rochester & Syracuse, NY

died in Madison County, NY





soldier – served in the Navy


academic – Cornell U., Rochester U., Wayne State U., Syracuse U., Old Dominion & U. Delaware



1960 Pulitzer, at the age of 34



– back to the Table of Contents –










Alan Dugan



native of


Jamaica, Queens NY


educated in Olivet, Mich.



last seen


World War II Europe

Mexico City

Truro, Mass. out on Cape Cod






soldier – served in World War II


factory worker – worked in a staple factory & a plant making plastic vaginas

for demonstrating diaphragm insertion


advertising firm executive


owned a greeting-card business with his wife, artist Judith Shahn, to whom he dedicated each of his books



1962 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










William Carlos Williams



native of


born & raised in Rutherford, NJ

& longtime resident of Rutherford, NJ

also works in Passaic, NJ

& dies in Rutherford, NJ



last seen


Philadelphia. MD from U. Pennsylvania



Geneva, Switzerland

Leipzig, Germany





medical doctor by day – decades as Chief of Pediatrics in Passaic


writer by nite – pens short stories, plays & novels, essays & translations after everyone else is in bed


painter – throughout his life. also collaborates with artists on painting/poem sets



1963 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Louis Simpson



native of / last seen


Jamaica – born in the West Indies

NYC – emigrates to the US at 17; Columbia U.

France, the Netherlands, Belgium & Germany – World War II

back to France – post-war sabbatical

back to NYC – Columbia U. PhD

Berkeley, Calif.

Stony Brook, NY

Long Island, NY – died





soldier – elite 101st Airborne Division


editor – in NYC


academic – Columbia U., U. California-Berkeley & SUNY – Stony Brook



1964 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Anthony Hecht



native of


born & raised in NYC

- attends school with Jack Kerouac


educated, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY



last seen


World War II Czechoslovakia

Ruehr, Germany

& Japan, post-war


Gambier, Ohio

Rochester, NY

Cambridge, Mass.

New Haven, Conn.

Washington, DC





soldier – 97th Infantry Division, World War II. Station in Japan post-war.


soldier Haunted – liberates Flossenbürg concentration camp.


staff writer – ‘Stars and Stripes’


translator – incl. Aeschylus


teacher – returns to his alma mater Bard College


academic – U. Rochester, Smith College; Harvard, Yale & Georgetown


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.



1968 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










George Oppen



native of


born in New Rochelle, NY

a San Francisco high school academy

England & Scotland – to clear his head

educated in Corvallis, Oregon

then all across America

- hitchhiking with his best girl



last seen


European Theater – World War 2

Ropallo, near Genoa Italy

Brooklyn & Utica, NY

Mexico City

France & Belgium


Redondo Beach, Calif.

died in Sunnyvale, Calif.





rich kid – father was a diamond merchant. learned to sail at 7. expelled from military academy for drinking, after a passenger was killed in a car he drove


soldier – in the Army. deliberately forfeited an exemption as a machinist to serve 7 mos. in Europe. Struck by artillery in his foxhole. awarded the Purple Heart.


publisher – issues works by Wm. Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound & Louis Zukofsky


works with the unemployed in New York City with his wife


lobbyist for services & rights, for the under-privileged


organizer – of industrial workers & strikes


contractor & carpenter & cabinetmaker


blacklisted & followed by the FBI



1969 Pulitzer



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Richard Howard



native of





last seen


Manhattan, at Columbia U.

Paris, at the Sorbonne

Greenwich Village today





lexicographer – creates dictionaries & studies language structures


translator – incl. adaptations of Charles Baudelaire which won a National Book Award (1984)



197o Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










William S. Merwin



native of




grew up in Union City, NJ

also: Scranton & Kingston, Pa.

Cambridge, Mass. & Princeton, NJ



last seen


Spain & the island of Majorca

Boston London New York & Paris – in a row, like that

Greenwich Village

a plantation outside Maui





son of a depression-era Presbyterian minister; ‘writing hymns soon as I could write. I even illustrated them’


playwright & translator – incl.: Dante’s ‘Purgatorio’ & the Middle English epic ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ & works by Pablo Neruda


linguist – French, Italian, Latin & Spanish. Japanese, Middle English, Quechua, Sanskrit & Yiddish


poetry editor – at ‘The Nation’


environmentalist – actively reforesting Hawaii


Pulitzers – almost 4o years apart! 1971 & 2oo9



– back to the Table of Contents –






jw 72




James Wright



native of


Martins Ferry, Ohio; born & raised

Gambier, Ohio; at Kenyon College



last seen



Austria on a Fulbright

NYC & Seattle

Minneapolis & St. Paul





Midwestern working class – His father spent 5o years at a glass factory. His mother left school at 14 to work in a laundry; neither attended school beyond eighth grade.


soldier – stationed in Japan; post-World War II with the Army. The GI Bill became Kenyon.


teacher – U. Minnesota; Macalester College, St. Paul; Hunter College, NYC


tragedy – suffered from depression, bipolar disorders & alcoholism; nervous breakdowns, hospitalization & electroshock therapy. Dead at 52



1972 Pulitzer



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Maxine Kumin



native of


born & raised in Philadelphia



last seen


Cambridge, Mass

Medford, Mass.

& Boston


Washington DC

Warner, NH – on a horse farm





teacher – at Tufts U., in Medford


horse whisperer – breeds Arabian & quarter horses


contributing editor – ‘the Alaska Quarterly Review’


wife – married for 68 years !! & counting


U.S. Poet Laureate

consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1973 Pulitzer



– back to Table of Contents –










Gary Snyder



native of


San Francisco


raised in King County, Wash., & Portland

Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Oregon

North Cascade Mountains, Wash.



last seen


educated in Blooming, Ind. – in anthropology

& Berkeley – in Asian culture studies


also: Turkey & Sri Lanka & Oceania

Suwanosejima Island, Japan

Kyoto, Japan


finally: back in the bay

Mill Valley, Calif. (14 miles north of the Bridge)

Sierra foothills, north of Nevada City, Calif.

& San Francisco, intermittently





farmboy – tends dairy cows & chickens, mans orchards, chops wood, makes shingles & builds sheds


newspaper copy boy – at ‘the Oregonian’


seaman – Marine Cooks & Stewards union; sails the Persian Gulf, Oceania & Pacific


also: beach comber & sustenance gatherer

naturalist. camp counselor & mountain climber

logging chokersetter – cable fastener

trail-builder – Yosemite Natl Park


fire lookout on Crater Mountain, Oregon. Inspires ‘Jaffy Rhyder’ – the main character in Jack Kerouac’s ‘Dharma Bums’


translator – ancient Chinese & modern Japanese


teacher – U. California-Davis



1975 Pulitzer



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John Ashbery



native of


Rochester, NY

raised near Lake Ontario on a farm



last seen


Cambridge, Mass. – Harvard A.B.

France – on a Fulbright

Paris, extensively


Middletown, Conn.

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Manhattan & Brooklyn

NYC is home today





painter- studied at Rochester’s art museum


copywriter in New York


art editor & critic – for ‘the New York Herald Tribune’ & ‘Partisan Review’; ‘Art & Literature,’ ‘New Poetry’; ‘Newsweek,’ ‘Art International’ & ‘New York’ magazines


Paris correspondent for ‘Art News’


translator – of French, incl. Arthur Rimbaud, murder mysteries & the works of his lover, French poet Pierre Martory


teacher – Brooklyn College & Bard College & Wesleyan U.



1976 Pulitzer



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Donald Justice



native of


born in Miami

& grew up in larger Florida

U. Miami grad

& Gainesville, Fla. too



last seen


Chapel Hill, NC

Monticello, Va.

Syracuse, NY & Princeton, NJ

Palo Alto & Irvine, Calif.

taught in Iowa City

& eventually died there





academic – Syracuse & Princeton; Stanford & U. California; U. Virginia & U. Florida; U. Iowa writers’ workshop



198o Pulitzer



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James Schuyler



native of


Chicago – born & raised

also: Bethany, W.V.



last seen


University of Florence

Ischia, Italy – at W.H. Auden’s place

Southampton, Long Island NY – at Fairfield Porter’s place

summers in Coastal Maine

died in NYC





son of a reporter who works in a NYC bookstore & rooms with fellow Pulitzer winner John Ashbery


secretary & typist – for W.H. Auden


curator – at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC

editor & art critic – for ‘Art News’

friend, to many artists – incl. Willem & Elaine de Kooning



1981 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Sylvia Plath



native of


born in Boston

raised in New England

educated, Northampton, Mass.



last seen


Cambridge, England

married in London

& on honeymoon in Spain


on the road, across North America

Yaddo Artist Colony – Saratoga Springs, NY


died in London





guest editor – ‘Mademoiselle’ magazine, NYC


psychiatric unit receptionist – Massachusetts General Hospital


tragedy – never graduates college. broken love affair. during one of England’s worst recorded winters (1963) writes a note to her neighbor & kills herself with her gas oven. she was 3o.



1983 Pulitzer



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Mary Oliver



native of


born in Maple Heights, Ohio

attends the Ohio State U. in Columbus

also lives & teaches in Cleveland



last seen


Poughkeepsie, NY – attends Vassar College

Lewisburg, Pa.

Bennington, Vt.

Provincetown, Mass.

Blueridge Mtn. foothills






organizer of her heroes estate – lives in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s home; helps Norma Millay organize her sister’s effects.


academic – Case Western Reserve U.; Bucknell U.; Sweet Briar College; Bennington College


‘When it’s over I want to say: all my life I was a bride, married to amazement

& I was the bridegroom, too, taking the world into my arms.’



1984 Pulitzer



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ck 85




Carolyn Kizer



native of


Spokane, Wash.

educated in Seattle

at U. Washington



last seen


Chapel Hill, NC & Iowa City

Yonkers, NY & Princeton, NJ


Washington, DC

Dublin & Paris


Palo Alto & San Jose, Calif.

died in Sonoma, Calif.





prodigy – published in ‘the New Yorker’ at 17


pupil to the master – studied mythology under Joseph Campbell


founder & editor – ‘Poetry Northwest’


first director – for the National Endowment for the Arts

- newly created in 1966


academic – Columbia & Princeton; Stanford & San Jose State

U.N.C. – Chapel Hill; U. Iowa writer’s workshop



1985 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Henry Splawn Taylor



native of


born & raised in rural Virginia

educated in Monticello, at U. Virginia

Leesburg, Va. – now home


last seen


Washington DC





a comic, originally


a Quaker, before that


teacher – American U. in DC, for more than 3o years


translator – Bulgarian, French, Hebrew, Italian & Russian


equestrian & horse lover



1986 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Rita Dove



native of


born & raised in Akron, Ohio

graduates Miami U. in Oxford Ohio

& U. Iowa writer’s workshop



last seen


Universitaet Tuebingen, Germany on a Fulbright

Washington DC





never tires – daughter of Ray Dove – the first black chemist in the U.S. tire industry;

a research chemist at Goodyear


teacher – Arizona State U. & U. Va – Charlottesville


playwright – ‘the Darker Face of the Earth’ played London’s Royal National Theatre


editor – incl. poetry anthologies


collaborator – compositions written with composer John Williams; played by the Boston Symphony


all american –

American Philosophical Society

American Academy of Arts & Sciences

American Academy of Arts and Letters

& enlisted by the White House for a live reading

set to a Williams composition for the Millenium celebration

held at the Lincoln Memorial


dancer – one-half a competitive ballroom dancing couple

with her husband, Fred Viebahn, a German writer


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant to the Librarian of Congress

- at 40, the youngest ever



1987 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










William Morris Meredith Jr.



native of


born in NYC

educated Princeton, NJ



last seen


Aleutian Islands, World War II

& larger Pacific Theater


Middlebury & Ripon, Vt.



Washington DC


Connecticut for four decades

with partner & fellow writer Richard Harteis


died in New London, Conn.





copy boy & reporter – ‘New York Times’


soldier – Lieutenant in the Army Air Force (one branch. not two) during World War II.


pilot – wants to fly. transfers to the Navy. Carrier pilot in the Pacific Theater.


Reservist – for the Navy, after the war.


Brave soul – re-enlists to serve in Korea (1952). Lieutenant Commander & winner of two Air Medals


arborist – plants & nurtures rare trees on the Thames River’s banks


teacher – Princeton U.; U. Hawaii; Middlebury College & Bread Loaf school, in Vt.; Yeats International Summer school, in Sligo, Ireland – as tribute to his hero


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1988 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Charles Simic



native of


Belgrade, Yugoslavia

emigrates to America at 16



last seen




Durham, N.C.

Washington DC


the shores of Bow Lake;

Strafford, N.H.





war refugee – as “one of millions displaced I heard plenty. And I’m still amazed by all the vileness & stupidity I witnessed.”


translator & teacher – U. New Hampshire


poetry editor – ‘the Paris Review’


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



199o Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Mona Van Duyn



native of


Waterloo, Iowa – born

Eldora, Iowa – raised

Ames, Iowa – graduate. Iowa State U.

Iowa City – U. Iowa writer’s workshop MFA



last seen



St. Louis

Washington DC





academic – U. Louisville & Washington U., St. Louis


co-editor & publisher – with her husband ‘Perspective: A Quarterly of Literature and the Arts’


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1991 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










James Tate



native of


born in Kansas City, Mo.

educated in Pittsburg, Kansas

& Iowa City



last seen


Berkeley, Calif.


Amherst, Mass.





fatherless – dad was a pilot, who died in World War II


Tate belonged to a gang in high school

& planned to be a gas station attendant, like his uncle


academic – U.California – Berkeley; Columbia U. & U. Massachusetts-Amherst



1992 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Louise Glück



native of




raised on Long Island, NY

educated in Yonkers, NY

& Manhattan



last seen


Williamstown, Mass.

New Haven, Conn.

Plainfield, Vt.


Washington DC

Cambridge, Mass. is home





academic – Williams College, in Williamstown. Yale U. & Boston U.; U. Iowa & Goddard College, Vt.


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1993 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Yusef Komunyakaa



native of


Bogalusa, La. – born & raised



last seen


Vietnam – during the war


Colorado Springs

Bloomington, Indiana

Princeton NJ

& Manhattan


New Orleans, today





soldier – bronze star in the U.S. Army; one tour of duty in South Vietnam


military propagandist – specialist for the military paper ‘Southern Cross’. Interviews soldiers, researches war history, etc.


teacher – teaches poetry in New Orleans public schools, & writing at U. New Orleans


academic – U. Indiana, Princeton U. & New York U.



1994 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Philip Levine



native of


born & raised in Detroit

educated in Detroit


educated further in Iowa City



last seen


Fresno, Berekely & Palo Alto, Calif.

Princeton, NJ & Manhattan

Providence, R.I.

Medford, Mass.


Never returned to Detroit






child of the depression


teenage factory worker – industrial Detroit, at 14


student – under Pulitzer winners Robert Lowell & John Berryman


academic – California State U. – Fresno; U. California – Berkeley. Columbia U. & Princeton U. & NYU; Brown U. & Tufts U.



1995 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Jorie Graham



native of




raised in Italy & France


studies philosophy at the Sorbonne, in Paris

& filmmaking in Manhattan



last seen


U. Iowa writer’s workshop

Cambridge, Mass.





child of the world – her father was a war correspondent & head of ‘Newsweek’s Rome bureau. Her mother was a sculptor


secretary – briefly


academic – Harvard U.



1996 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Lisel Mueller



native of


Hamburg, Germany



last seen


Plainfield, Vt.

Evansville, Ind.

Lake Forest, Illinois

greater Chicagoland





war refugee – fled the Nazi regime at 15


teacher – U. Chicago; Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago; Goddard College in Plainfield. Her father, Fritz C. Neumann, was a professor at Evansville College.


book reviewer – ‘the Chicago Daily News’



1997 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Charles Wright



native of


Pickwick Dam, Tennessee


educated in Asheville, NC



last seen


Rome on Fulbright; Sapienza U.

Padua on Fulbright, U. Padua


Washington DC


Charlottesville, Va. is now home





translator – incl. works in Italian which won the PEN Translation Prize


teacher – U. Virginia-Charlottesville


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1998 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Mark Strand



native of


Prince Edward Island, Canada



last seen


Central & South America

- traveled extensively as a youth & teenager


New Haven, Conn. at Yale

Florence, Italy on a Fulbright

U. Iowa writers workshop

Brazil, as a Fulbright lecturer


also: Manhattan



Washington DC





painter – at Yale


academic – Columbia U. & Johns Hopkins U. & U. Chicago


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



1999 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Charles Kenneth Williams



native of



Newark, NJ


also: Philadelphia

Lewisburg, Glenside & Lancaster, Pa.

Manhattan & Princeton NJ

died in Hopewell, NJ



last seen


Irvine & Berkeley, Calif.

Fairfax, Va.







psychotherapist – for adolescents & young adults


teacher – YM-YWHA & Drexel, in Philadelphia; Beaver College (Arcadia U.) & Franklin and Marshall College, also in Pa.; Columbia & New York universities in Manhattan; U. California in Irvine & Berkeley; George Mason U., in Fairfax; Boston U.; Princeton U.


translator – incl. works by Euripides & Sophocles & Japanese haikus by Issa



2ooo Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Stephen Dunn



native of


born in Queens NY

educated; Hofstra & Syracuse


also: Princeton & Galloway, NJ

Port Republic & Ocean City, NJ

& Manhattan



last seen





Ann Arbor, Mich.

Frostburg, Maryland





basketball player – on scholarship to hofstra


advertising copywriter – “in-house brochures for Nabisco kept getting me promoted. I was in danger, literally, of becoming the men around me. So I quit & went to Spain to write a novel & wrote a bad one.’


academic – Wichita State U., U. Washington, Columbia U., U. Michigan, Princeton U., Richard Stockton College of New Jersey



2oo1 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Carl Dennis



native of


born in St. Louis

educated in Oberlin, Ohio

Chicago & Minneapolis



last seen


Berkeley, Calif.

& Asheville, NC


Buffalo is home today





professional student drifter – attends three schools – Oberlin College & the U. Chicago & U. Minnesota – just to get a BA


teacher – U. Buffalo & Warren Wilson College, in Asheville



2oo2 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






pm o3




Paul Muldoon



native of


Northern Ireland; County Armagh



last seen


Belfast, Northern Ireland

England, in Oxford, Norwich & Cambridge


Princeton, NJ

NYC is now home





farmboy – eldest of three on land outside The Moy, near Country Tyrone. Nationalism & sectarianism were powerful forces in the Northern Ireland of his youth. ‘Next door was the parish where the Orange Order was founded’ he said. ‘my mother tried to shelter us from it all.’


arts producer – for the BBC in Belfast


émigré – arrived in New York in 1987


lyricist – librettos for four operas & lyrics to Warren Zevon’s “My Ride’s Here” (among others)


musician – plays in a band, as every good irishman should

playwright – incl. scripts based on the king james bible

editor – esp. of anthologies

children’s book author

translator & critic


academic – Oxford & Princeton. U. East Anglia, in Norwich. Caius College & Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge.


president of the British Poetry Society



2oo3 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Franz Wright



native of


born in Vienna

grew up in the Pacific Northwest

the Midwest & California



last seen


Oberlin, Ohio


& Waltham, Mass.

where he died





famous son – he & James Wright are the only parent/child duo to win matching Pulitzers in the same category


caregiver – worked in mental health clinics & at centers for grieving children


teacher – Emerson College


translator – of German & Russian. incl. poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke & Rene Char

& Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort


lover – his ‘Kindertotenwald’ collection concludes with a poem to his wife; Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, written while he was dying



2oo4 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






tdk 05




Ted Kooser



native of


born in Ames, Iowa

raised in Ames, Iowa

educated in Ames, too

- Iowa State U. BA


works in Lincoln, Neb.

homestead in Garland, Neb.



last seen


Washington DC





insurance executive – like fellow Pulitzer winner Wallace Stevens. Koos was vice-president of Lincoln Benefit Life Company for many, many years.


farmer & rancher – acreage near Garland, run with his wife


teacher – U. Nebraska


writer – incl.: ‘The Atlantic Monthly,’ ‘The New Yorker,’ ‘Poetry,’ ‘The Hudson Review,’ ‘The Nation,’ ‘The American Poetry Review,’ ‘The Kenyon Review,’ ‘Prairie Schooner’ & ‘Antioch Review’


publisher – owner/director of Windflower Press; poetry publications & literary magazines, incl. ‘The Salt Creek Reader’ & ‘The Blue Hotel’


host – of the newspaper project ‘American Life in Poetry’


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



2oo5 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Claudia Emerson



native of


born in Chatham Hall, Va.


educated in Monticello, Va.

& Greensboro, North Carolina


Fredericksburg, Va. was her longtime home

tho she died in Richmond, Va.





teacher – U. Mary Washington


editor – literary magazine ‘Shenandoah’ & ‘Visions-International’


musician – performed with her husband, Kent Ippolito. eclectically: bluegrass & blues, folk & rock, jazz & ragtime



2006 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Natasha Trethewey



native of


Gulfport, Ms. – born

raised in Atlanta, Ga. – with her mother

raised in New Orleans – with her father

educated in Athens, Ga. at the U. Georgia



last seen


Amherst, Mass

more Atlanta

Washington DC





daughter of love & tragedy – her father was a white Canadian emigrant. Her mother was a black social worker. They married before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down illegal ‘mixed’ marriages.


They later divorced tho & Tretheway’s mother was murdered, by her second husband, after divorcing him. Trethewey was 19.


teacher – Emory U.


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



2oo7 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






rh o8




Robert Hass



native of / last seen


San Francisco – born

San Rafael – raised

Moraga, Calif. – Saint Mary’s College grad

Palo Alto, Calif. – Stanford U. MA & PhD


Iowa City

Washington DC





drown in dysfunction – alcoholic mother


academic – in the Bay: at his alma mater St. Mary’s & U. California-Berkeley. U. Iowa writer’s workshop. U. Buffalo


ecological champion – civic groups & corporate board rooms.

“places where poets don’t go,” he said.


columnist – ‘the Washington Post’; weekly, on poetry.


translator – of Japanese Haiku masters


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



2oo8 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Rae Armantrout



native of


greater California


born in Vallejo

raised in San Diego

educated in Berkeley

& San Francisco


San Diego is home





military brat – raised on naval bases


academic – U. California – San Diego



2o1o Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –






kRyn 11




Kay Ryan



native of


San Jose, Calif.

raised in San Joaquin Valley

& spent time in the Mojave Desert



last seen


Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, Calif.

U. California, in Los Angeles

Kentfield, Calif.

Marin County, Calif. is home today


& Washington DC





teacher – College of Marin


U.S. Poet Laureate

Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress



2o11 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Tracy K. Smith



native of / last seen


born in Falmouth, Mass.

raised in Northern California

Cambridge, Mass. & Manhattan educated

Princeton, NJ

Palo Alto, Calif.

Ripton, Vt.





heir to the stars – daughter of an astronomer


academic – Stanford & Princeton & Breadloaf Writers school, Vt. Also: City College New York & U. Pittsburgh



2o12 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Sharon Olds



native of


born in San Francisco

raised in Berkeley

educated in Palo Alto



last seen


Manhattan, at Columbia U.

NYC is home today





self-professed atheist & pantheist. her first collection of poems was: ‘Satan Says’


academic – New York U.



2o13 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Vijay Seshadri



native of


born in Bangalaru, India

raised in Columbus, Ohio

educated, Oberlin, Ohio



last seen


Bennington, Vt.

Yonkers & Manhattan

& larger NYC





émigré – came to America at 5


academic – Bennington College & Sarah Lawrence College


editor – at ‘the New Yorker’


book reviewer – ‘The New York Times,’ ‘The Threepenny Review,’ & ‘The American Scholar’



2o14 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Gregory Pardlo



native of




raised in New Jersey

educated in New Brunswick, NJ

& Manhattan


Brooklyn is now home





lyrical musical blood – brother Robbie Pardlo was in the R&B group City High


editor – literary journal ‘Callaloo.’ Writer – ‘The American Poetry Review,’ ‘Poet Lore,’ ‘Harvard Review,’ ‘Ploughshares’ & National Public Radio.


translator – incl. Danish poet Niels Lyngsø


academic – Columbia U.



2o15 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –










Peter Balakian



native of


Teaneck, NJ

raised in Tenafly, NJ


educated in Lewisburg, Pa.

Manhattan & Providence, R.I.


home is Hamilton Village, NY





researcher & historian & chronicler – early 2oth cen. Armenian genocide. His grandmother survived a death march thru a Syrian desert. His grandfather, a doctor, tended survivors of a 19o9 massacre.


translator – of Armenian poetry


editor – Norton Anthology Against Forgetting


founder – ‘The Graham House Review’


academic – Colgate U.



2o16 Pulitzer



– back to the Table of Contents –












“Protect your identity”

says Mileage.com

three times today

as if it knew something.


I may want to fly cheap,

cruise in luxury,

buy a walk-in-tub

and burial insurance.

I may want to lie still

and think about my choices.


We maintain a critical distance

from the sad spaniel gentlemen

in cravats on the plaid duvet

at the Custom Hotel, Los Angeles.



– rae armantrout


dedicated to:


air travel veterans

who brave the skies

without end


time after time after time

headed out of town, again


another confused check-in clerk

another ounce overweight

another too-early arrival

& another departure

delayed late


another nonsense security foible

another overpriced limp meal

another long wait

without a seat

standing yawning, surreal


another fight for overhead bins

another tussle for elbow rests


but at least you’ve got

another set

of the poetry you like best






about the author



Willy Thorn is crazy.


But he also has a master’s degree

& so he is just the type of madman

to sit down & read every single last

Pulitzer Prize winning poet in American history

straight thru, in order


He is also a journalist, copywriter & playwright

biographer, columnist & capitol hill scribe

old soul dj, photographer, sometimes painter

too-patient artist & forever hobo


His works have appeared in nearly 3oo periodicals

& he boasts multiple university degrees

& fistfuls of awards in journalism, theatre & photography


He also proudly notes books

housed in Rome’s Vatican Archives

& the District’s Library of Congress


He has written too much to tally

but recent books include:


… a biography of the Black Friar Tuck

his hometown hero; Milwaukee’s own

Brother Booker Ashe


… a collection of Americana poetry & prose

pieces from life on the road

haikus, one-act scripts & short stories

entitled: ‘this is America’


He lives in Bangkok, more or less

where he impresses Thai people

with his Burmese Buddha collection

bargain-bin priced soccer jerseys from Malaysia

Chinese math techniques

elegant Lao handwriting

& Isan eating skills



this Book & larger collection

is dedicated to his Kuhn Meh (mother)


because without her

& her love & her care

her boundless buddhist compassion

her endless thoughtfulness

& her yadong too


he never couldve made it

thru all that poetry







discover other titles by Willy Thorn



Out of Context Series


a century of pulitzer poetry Out of Context (2o16)

a century of pulitzer poetry Out of Context too (2o16)

a century of pulitzer poetry Out of Context vol. iv (2o16)


An American History of Time (2o16)



Full Length Works


This is America (poetry; 2o15)


Brother Booker Ashe (biography; 2o1o)




- the end -

A Century of Pulitzer Poetry Out of Context - Three

  • Author: Willy Thorn
  • Published: 2016-08-26 04:05:50
  • Words: 21954
A Century of Pulitzer Poetry Out of Context - Three A Century of Pulitzer Poetry Out of Context - Three