(A collection of favorite poems, excerpts, song lyrics)


We Real Cool (Gwendolyn Brooks) The Lake Isle of Innisfree (William Butler Yeats) Lonely People Weeping (James Kavanaugh)
Not Waving But Drowning (Stevie Smith) Richard Cory (Edwin Arlington Robinson) Water; The Sea; It is Born (3 poems by Pablo Neruda)
Fog (Carl Sandburg) Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan) Touch Me (Stanly Kunitz)
somewhere i have never travelled (e.e. cummings)

The Red Wheelbarrow William Carlos Williams)

Say Yes Quickly (Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi)

Music I Heard with You (Conrad Aiken) 36th Chorus (from San Francisco Blues--Jack Kerouac) Safe Haven (Roger C. Worley, AKA The Quill)


We Real Cool (Gwendolyn Brooks)

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon


 Not Waving But Drowning (Stevie Smith)
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.


Fog (Carl Sandburg)

The fog comes

on little cat feet.


It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then, moves on.


somewhere i have never travelled (e.e. cummings)

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near


your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose


or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;


nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

compels me with the colour of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing


(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens; only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Music I Heard with You (Conrad Aiken)

Music I heard with you was more than music,

And bread I broke with you was more than bread;

Now that I am without you, all is desolate;

All that was once so beautiful is dead.


Your hands once touched this table and this silver,

And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.

These things do not remember you, beloved,

And yet your touch upon them will not pass.


For it was in my heart you moved among them,

And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;

And in my heart they will remember always,--

They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.


The Lake Isle of Innisfree (William Butler Yeats)


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping


Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket


There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet's wings.


And I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,

I hear it in the deep heart's core.


Richard Cory (Edwin Arlington Robinson)

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.


Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan)

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they're forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.


How many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.


How many years can a mountain exist

Before it's washed to the sea?

Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist

Before they're allowed to be free?

Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,

Pretending he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

The Red Wheelbarrow


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


36th Chorus

Falling off in wind.

I got the San Francisco
Bluer than misery
I got the San Francisco blues
Bluer than Eternity
I gotta go on home
Fine me

I got the San Francisco
Bluer than heaven’s gate,
I got the San Francisco blues
Bluer than blue paint,
I better move on home
Sleep in
My golden
Dream again

Lonely People Weeping


Tonight I saw the people
Walking in the crowded streets,
Mumbling to themselves
The words they will not share,
And fearing that no one
Can understand the pain--or care.
Satisfied to find a home
Where someone knows their name.
Tasting their transcendence
In a weekly poker game
Or a lamp and yellow chair
That always seem the same.

Tonight I saw the people
Walking in the crowded streets,
Walking in the privacy of fog damp darkness,
Separate shadows apart,
Weary of step and heart,
Hands brushing, barely touching enough
To warm the fingers,
Tightly I held your hand,
Locking wrists amid the traffic noise,
And as pulled you close, I heard
The lonely people weeping for their toys.


Everything on earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
bit, the petal fell
until the only flower was the falling.
Water is different,
has no direction but beauty,
runs through all dreams of color,
takes bright lessons
from the rock
and in those occupations works out
the unbroken duties of the foam.

The Sea

A single being, but there is no blood.
A single cares, death or a rose.
The sea comes and reunites out lives
and alone attacks and is split apart and sings
in night and day and man and animal.
Its essence: fire and cold: movement.

It Is Born

Here, I came to the boundaries
where nothing needs to be said,
everything is learned with weather and ocean,
and the moon returned
with its lines silvered
and each time the shadow was broken
by the crash of a wave
and each day on the balcony of the sea
wings open, fire is born
and everything continues blue as the morning.


  from Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz
(W. W. Norton, 1995)

Touch Me by Stanley Kunitz


Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.


Say Yes Quickly

Forget your life. Say God is Great. Get up.
You think you know what time it is. It's time to pray.
You've carved so many little figurines, too many.
Don't knock on any random door like a beggar.
Reach your long hands out to another door, beyond where
you go on the street, the street
where everyone says, "How are you?"
and no one says
How aren't you?

Tomorrow you'll see what you've broken and torn tonight,
thrashing in the dark. Inside you
there's an artist you don't know about.
He's not interested in how things look different in moonlight.

If you are here unfaithfully with us,
you're causing terrible damage.
If you've opened your loving to God's love,
you're helping people you don't know
and have never seen.

Is what I say true? Say
yes quickly,
if you know, if you've known it
from before the beginning of the universe



A gray mist clings
to the door ...
a phenomenon of nature,
conquering everything
that lies in its wake.

Visual perception is
terminated to such a
degree that cognitive thought
no longer exists.
A feeling of absolute

isolation pervades, generated
by the mind's necessity
for sensory input ...
and its inability to
synthesize reality ...

Visual perception is obliterated.
Only smell and sound penetrates
the murky gray,
producing visions
of impending doom.

The only safe haven
is behind the door,
secure within the confines
of your home ...
Where sight still
holds sway and the

mind abandons visions
for reality.

I hate FOG!

The Quill 2002



Proceed to Writing on the Wall (Robert Frost)


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