I Stopped Writing the Poem

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.



I liked this poem because it’s literal meaning is what the poem is really about.  Normally the poem says something, but you need to dig to find out the meaning.  This one I liked because the meaning is right there.  It’s only a matter of realizing what it is instead of digging and decoding the verse.


This poem says that everything is poetry.  She stopped writing the poem to fold clothes, the folding the clothes became poetry.  It became an intricate art of tenderness and womanhood.  Through this folding the shirt became a poem of its own within this poem about folding.  It’s kind of difficult to explain, but this poem makes everything poetry.


The little girl is watching her mother fold.  She watches the process and is learning how to become the woman that her mother is.  Her growth also becomes a poem itself, within the larger poem of the mundane things of life.  These mundane things take on a grandeur scale when presented in this poem. Life itself becomes poetry.  Life itself becomes art.



Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,

Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.


Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.


When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.


Alright.  It's been a while since I've done this so I'm 

a little rusty.  I'll just dive right in.

I think that this poem deals with domestic violence.  While 

it does not come right out and say it, there is evidence 

throughout the poem.

The first thing that indicated this to me was the presence of 

the tiger.  The tiger is a strong animal, on top of the food 

chain.  Tigers don't take no crap from anyone.  They stand up 

for themselves.  Aunt Jennifer weaves these tigers over and over, 

though it's difficult to pull the ivory needle.  The tigers, 

dancing, proud, and unafraid, are what Aunt Jennifer struggles 

to be.  She fails, so that's what she struggles to produce.

The next thing that made me believe that the Uncle in this poem 

beat her was the massive weight of the Uncle's wedding band.  

The massive weight implies that it's big and overbearing, not a 

light ring that's a constant reminder of love.  It is a burden, 

a constant pressure to always be her best out of fear of how her 

husband will react.  

The last clue dealt again with Aunt Jennifer's hands and her 

wedding ring.  "Her terrified hands will lie" is a use of 

synecdoche.  Her hands are terrified because every part of her 

is terrified of her husband.  "Still ringed with the ordeals she 

was mastered by" deals with the wedding ring.  He used his power 

to master her, the ring was a reminder at how subdued she was 

under his strength.    


One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Bishop is talking about the loss of everyday things, such as keys or an hour badly spent, but she’s using the poem to compare those losses to the death of a loved one.  If she loses her keys or a watch it isn’t a big deal to her, because she has accepted that she will lose things.  What she is getting at, ultimately, is that the loss of a loved one is much harder to deal with.  She tries to play it off as just like losing anything else, but her pain at the loss shows through.

“–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”

What really struck me about this poem, though, was the title.  “One Art.”  Poetry is one form of art, painting is another, music is another, and now losing things is an art as well?  She refers to losing things as an art, the art of losing.  In this way she makes losing things beautiful and poetic, an actual art form.  She views losing things like she does her poetry.  They are both art to her.  It just seems contrary to the point of the poem.  If losing things ain’t no thang to her, then why would she refer to it as an art?  Doesn’t art inspire emotion in its onlookers?  It’s that duality that trapped me into the poem and made it so intriguing to me.

Does anyone know how to upload pictures and stuff on the new wordpress layout?

The Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.   And I watered it in fears, Night and morning with my tears; And I sunnèd it with smiles, And with soft deceitful wiles.   And it grew both day and night, Till it bore an apple bright; And my foe beheld it shine, And he knew that it was mine,   And into my garden stole, When the night had veiled the pole: In the morning glad I see

My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Literally, Blake was engry with a friend but it went away.  He was angry with a foe and it did not go away.  Instead, it grew as he watered it and sunned it.  It grew until it “bore an apple,” or reached its climax, at which point his foe saw the hatred.  His foe tried to sneak into the his garden, and in the morning was outstretched beneath a tree.

Now.  Here’s what I think it means.  Blake’s mad at this dude.  Dude’s cool with him, so the anger goes away.  Blake’s mad at this other dude.  Dude isn’t cool, so the anger festers.  Blake harvests this anger, but fronts so that his foe, dude who isn’t cool, thinks that the two are in fact cool.  “Sunned it with smiles and with soft deceitful wiles” means that he pretends to be cool with this guy so this guy thinks they’re friends.

This next part gets a littl fuzzy.  Alright, Blake’s got this apple and the dude sees it.  The apple seems to refer to his hatred in the poem, but in my interpretation it works more as the trust the foe has built up for Blake.  So dude see’s this trust and he’s like, “Word, I’ll just go chill in his garden,” in the sense that he now trusts Blake enough to enter his personal territory, like go to dinner with him or crash at his house after a party or something.

BAM!  Poor dude shouldn’t have trusted Blake.  Blake kills him.  Outstretched beneath a tree?  He’s not reclining, he’s hung and gravity is pulling his body down.

Pretty angry, Blake.  Maybe you should get that looked at.

big_make-face-angry.jpg knot-hangmans-noose-black-backdrop-18mm-manila-1-ajhd.jpg oaktree.jpg poison-apple.gif

The Child is Father to the Man

‘THE child is father to the man.’ How can he be? The words are wild. Suck any sense from that who can: ‘The child is father to the man.’ No; what the poet did write ran, ‘The man is father to the child.’ ‘The child is father to the man!’

How can he be? The words are wild.

I’m really not a big fan of Gerald Manley Hopkins.  This poem, I assume, is about Christianity.  As was everything else he wrote about.

Basically, what I took from this is Jesus, the son of God, is the child to which he is referring.  Because the child is father to man, Jesus is father to mankind.  Not mankind as a whole of course, mankind was here before Jesus ever was.  But he’s the father of Christianity and the father of Christians.  Therefore, he’s the father of the men who will be saved.

He questions the statement because Jesus is the son of God but is the father of salvaged mankind.  How can a child be a father to man?  How can an egg bear a chicken?  How can the after (the child, the egg, the baby), bear the before (the man, the chicken, the parent)?  It must be divinely decided that this child may be father to man.  I assume this is the message he hopes to deliver in this poem.

  605christianity.gif buddychrist1.jpg erebus-cross.jpg  math_god_070830_ms.jpg

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday

three days after Bastille day, yes

it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine

because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton

at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner

and I don’t know the people who will feed me


I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun

and have a hamburger and a malted and buy

an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets

in Ghana are doing these days

I go on to the bank

and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)

doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life

and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine

for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do

think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or

Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres

of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine

after practically going to sleep with quandariness


and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE

Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and

then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue

and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and

casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton

of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it


and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of

leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT

while she whispered a song along the keyboard

to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing


The first thing that struck me about the poem is the lack of punctuation.  The poem is one long, run on sentence with one comma in the first stanza.  It’s interesting that the poem itself never ends but is written about/on the day when Lady died.

Literally it’s a recollection of the events he went through on the day that Lady died.  But who is Lady?  A woman?  Perhaps that’s her nickname.  I’m assuming he’s not talking about Lady from Lady in the Tramp.  His poetry is unconventional… perhaps I shouldn’t rule that out quite yet.

 An oddity I found in the poem, first of all, was the lack of punctuation.  I also didn’t see a reference to this Lady once in the poem.  It looms over the poem but never appears in it, perhaps like a ghost?  She follows him through the day, always there but never actually present.  Interesting.

The lack of punctuation really strikes me.  Forgive me for harping on it.  But I think I understand why he did it.  Well, some of it.  Not quite all.  The fact that there’s never a period makes the sentences and the poem never ending.  A period marks the end but there isn’t one.   The poem never dies.  It juxtaposes the title, The Day Lady Died, but it goes along with a theme of the poem.  Lady died, but follows him through the day.  She’s always looming over him and following him like a ghosts.

Ghosts are eternal, this poem is eternal.  Not even using words, O’Hara conveys a powerful message about death.  A person may die, but their spirit can live on.  Perhaps not a literal spirit, but their memory remains and the fact that they were once alive will not change.  Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said in one of his novels:

“When a person dies, he only appears to die.  He is still very much alive in the past…  All moments, past present, and future, always have existed, always will exist.”


Basically, O’Hara is helping people cope with the loss of a loved one.  His day still goes on though Lady is gone.  She may have died, but she is always with him.  She’s always a presence in his life.  And that’s something very comforting to think about after the passing of a loved one.


Camouflaging the Chimera

We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,
blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits. We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird’s target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover
throwing stones at the sunset. Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black. But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
We weren’t there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man’s eyelid.

This is obviously about the Vietnam war.  The VC, the jungle…  There’s no question as to what this about.  Now it’s just a matter of finding the deeper meaning. The title of the poem works with what he’s saying.  It’s about how they’re trying to hide in Vietnam.  They’re painting their faces and rifles with mud and stuffing their pockets with grass to blend in with the surrounding.  The surroundings are even beginning to absorb the soldiers into it.  Small animals are nesting against them and the chamelion is changing to match their uniforms.  Camouflage is everywhere.  Only the apes try to expose the soldiers. What could the chimera be.  A chimera is a mythical monster composed of one or more creatures.  The first would be men, the soldiers evident in the poem.  But what else can they be?  They’re creating this war, so can the embodiment of war be a part of the chimera?  Or could it be the surroundings.  They’re men, but they’re blending into the scene around them.  Perhaps them, combined with the elements of the Vietnamese jungle are creating a chimera.  This chimera is man and war and nature and trees and animals.  This chimera is everything in Vietnam.  Does that work? “As a world revolved under each man’s eyelid.”I’d like to address this line.  I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I do have a guess.  These men are surrounded by war and death.  The line does not say THE world, like the earth as a whole, but A world.  This is specific to each person.  The men are thinking of their lives.  Their girlfriends, their wives, their families, their friends…  These men have their own life and their own world but have been ripped from it and put into this foreign dangerous world.  The men may not see their old lives again, and they know this as they remember what waits for them back home. I feel as though Yusef is against war but is not denying its inevitablity.  The imagery is natural and camouflaged.  War is part of nature and blends in with the lives of people.  It’s inevitable.  The only opposition to the soldiers in the jungle were the monkeys.  No one listened to the monkeys; they stayed in the jungle and continued on in the war.  The rest of the imagery is mostly natural and flows with nature.  The last stanza is what makes me believe Yusef doesn’t support war.  The last line abuot the worlds in the eyes of the soldiers is haunting.  It leaves the reader with a forlorn feeling.  They’re depressed.  They realized all the soldier had to give up and may never regain in order to fight in the war.  The war that is inevitable because it’s so natural for humans to perform.

Vietnam soldiers   peace-sign.jpg  


When summer ended

the leaves of snapdragons withered

taking their shrill-colored mouths with them.

They were still, so quiet. They were

violet where umber now is. She hated

and she hated to see

them go. Flowers


born when the weather was good – this

she thinks of, watching the branch of peaches

daring their ways above the fence, and further,

two hummingbirds, hovering, stuck to each other,

arcing their bodies in grim determination

to find what is good, what is

given them to find. These are warriors


distancing themselves from history.

They find peace

in the way they contain the wind

and are gone.


Alright.  CPR.

Literally – Summer has ended and the flowers are dying.  “She” hates to see the flowers die.  “She” remembers when the flowers come while she watches two hummingbirds around a peach.  The hummingbirds are looking for something edible in the peach and are described as warriors.  “They contain peace in the way they contain the wind and are gone” is the only line I don’t understand, yet it seems to be the most pivotal.

Patterns and Oddities – I see a lot of juxtaposition.  The hummingbirds are warriors but they find peace.  “She” watches the flowers die while she thinks of when they were alive.  The main oddity is the line I don’t understand.  The line is shorter and isn’t as visual as the rest of the poem is.  Another oddity is the line breaks.  They break right after flowers and warriors, in the middle of sentences.

I looked at the line breaks to see if they meant anything.  The first stanza is about the snapdragons dying and ends with the word “flowers”.  The next stanza starts with the word “born” and talks about the peaches that seem to still be alive and the fluttering hummingbirds.  The hummingbirds are obviously full of life.  This stanza ends with “warriors,” and the hummingbirds are fighting for survival, trying to find food among what is around them.  I looked at it this way in an attempt to understand the last line.  The first and last words of each of the stanzas makes sense to what’s happening at that particular place in the poem.  The first word in the final stanza is “distancing” and the final word is “gone”.  Judging from this alone, the final stanzas seems very bleak.  But somehow the hummingbirds are finding peace in the wind, force that’s constantly moving and pushing things along.


So I guess what I think the poem is saying is life will go on.  The snapdragons are dead, but they were once alive and will come again with the next spring.  The peaches are alive and the hummingbirds are always moving along like the wind.  They are searching for food to stay alive and continue moving through life.  “We all have reasons for moving.  I move to keep things whole” (Strand).


It’s all right to think back and miss things, and things will be hard from time to time, but life will continue going on.  As Joe Dirt said, we’ve got to keep on keepin on.  If we stop and let every loss in our lives get to us instead of forge forward like the wind, we’ll wind up withered like the snapdragons.




You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time—
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

lord of the rings

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been sacred of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You—-

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look


And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

So here’s what I’m thinking this poem is about. Her father was gone before she had grown past being a little girl. He was a nazi. When she was little she saw him like all little girls see their fathers, this big god, or statue as she calls him, that has no flaw and cannot be defeated. As she grew up he wasn’t there for her to see his flaws, so she still sees him as this ideal that controls her life. Even though he’s gone and the villagers are stamping on his corpse. They didn’t like him, so he must have some flaws. She just can’t see them because he wasnever there.

The part about a model of him with a Meinkampf look… Does she see Hitler as a sort of scapegoat father? Did she look to the media and see Hitler and associate him with her dad because her father was a Nazi?


54 – Walt Whitman

The past and present wilt–I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

I know I’ve heard of Walt Whitman before.  I just can’t think of where.  Hm…

What drew me to this poem was the way it looks.  He says something and then has something in parenthesis.  For anyone who’s read and enjoyed John Gardner’s Grendel, this would be something you’d notice as well.

I think he’s writing this poem in the in light of some event  that caused him to think about death.  Perhaps an accident or ailment that caused him to question whether or not he would survive.  It’s interesting that the past and present is wilting since he has been filled.  I would think that if you fill something it’d be happy instead of dying.  The listener up there he speaks to I’m assuming is God, but he has no intent of dying yet because he is only speaking in passing (“I can only stay a minute longer”).  After he realizes he will live roadrunr.jpg he looks to those around him and analyzes their rush.  They’re in such a hurry to get finished with their chores and get to supper and get on with their lives, when will they pay attention to him?  When will they walk and speak with him?  Will they have the opportunity to slow down and pay attention to him before he’s gone?

Whitman is telling us that we need to take time to appreciate those around us.  We’re not sure how long they’ll be here.

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