X insisted James Joyce wrote portions of Ulysses in a bar at the corner of Bedford and Barrow streets.
Y said this was impossible, as Joyce had never been to the United States, much less New York City.
Some years later, a wall in the bar’s courtyard collapsed.
They found a walking stick in the rubble.
X said, “See.”
X left the baby on the front porch because it was too hot inside and the baby would not sleep.
The baby did not like the front porch.
The baby cried, and cried.
The baby’s cries caught the attention of neighbor Y next door.
A light went on in the house next door.
A silhouette passed across the shaded window of the house next door and moments later neighbor Y emerged from the house next door.
In the morning, the baby was not crying anymore.
They were not too sure how it had once been, what it had once been, and they didn’t see much of a need to go back to where they had been anyway. It wasn’t a place they cared to see again. Even it was a free land or a place where freedom was praised it didn’t seem to them, once they had left it behind, that they had left so very much behind after all.
Now they found themselves in another place which didn’t tout its freedom oh so very much but the one thing they noticed was that in this new place they could walk down the street and people would not look away from them as they passed or they wouldn’t cross over to the other side as happened sometimes in the other place. Plus, in the stores, people waited patiently in line, and would hold their place when they happened to forget something, such as a quart of milk, which happened sometimes as having moved there was a lot of be done, and no one objected or gave them a funny look when they returned to the same place in line. This was a place, a place where freedom was never spoken of, they felt they could come to like, and like very much.
There it is. Now you have it. Push it along.
The sidewalk, every sidewalk, has cracks. Sometimes the ground settling creates tripping hazards because a sidewalk every sidewalk has cracks.
There it was. Then you had it, pushed it along.
Miles of escalators to take you up the mountain. Stand right, walk left. There is still a long way to go. So stand right, walk left.
There it is. Here you have it. Push it along
The unhappy man at the bar thought he could become happy just by writing “I am happy” over and over again. He wrote “I am happy” over and over again. On napkins. On coasters. The back of checks and tabs. But still he was not happy. He did not feel any happier. He not believe he was becoming happier. The only thing that made him happy was the thought that by writing “I am happy” he would become happy. So, properly speaking, the only thing that made him happy was hope. The hope that writing “I am happy” would make him happy, made him happy.
As part of our memorize poetry project, on most days we tweet a few lines of poetry. We started with The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. When this is complete, we will move to much more concise The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.
Memorizing poetry gives you a feel for the language, exercises the brain, entertains when your electronics are dead, and carries on a tradition that predates writing. If you just memorize two lines a day you will have a good collection in a month or two.
This is a collection of poems we have memorized in whole or in part. We also send out a few lines each day via our Twitter feed (#memorize poetry). Please suggest poems to memorize by leaving a reply on this page.
More poetry to memorize:
We who are old are marvelously blessed by the use of glasses. Inexcusable the ingratitude of mankind to bury in oblivion the name of that benefactor, the inventor, the original fashioner of glasses, when there stand on record innumerable murderers oppressors and thieves under the name of conquerers.
From Robert Ashley’s 1883 Opera for Television, Perfect Lives
Pictures taped to our window,
Roosevelt Bassett makes objects from lath he salvaged from demolished houses in North Philadelphia. We first ran across his work in 2006. This film by Ron Stanford profiles this remarkable artist.
Brother Francis / opened his class / by reading off the names of that day’s dancers at the Troc./ He carried a stick filled with brandy / and had taught a one armed man to type.
there are few / left who remember the day / the rain fell so /fast/ the car slipped / from the road
others sat waiting / quietly weeping and waiting for / the rain to cease / to / quiet down taper off / then stop
the earth didn’t / so much as move as explode / outward before collapsing taking / the /swings, the dog house, / the family pet
some of them / could walk while others sat / in the shade watching / lines / being painted on the / rebuilt interstate highway
more than one / thing to do makes one /seem busy and overworked / but / what if the things / are not difficult
Dean Drummond – 1949-2013.
This clip was recorded at the University of Washington in 2012.