I sit by the roadside
The driver changes the wheel.
I do not like the place I have come from.
I do not like the place I am going to.
Why with impatience do I
Watch him changing the wheel?
– Bertolt Brecht


Up is down and black is white
good is bad and day is night
dogs are cats and wrong is right
past is ahead and future lies behind

love is hate and no means yes
tiny is huge and decline is progress
truth is a lie and laughter comes as a cry
fraud is a virtue and hello means goodbye


What if we dislike or despise or hate poems because they are – every single one of them – failures? The poet and critic Allen Grossman tells a story (there are many versions of the story) that goes like this: you’re moved to write a poem because of some transcendent impulse to get beyond the human, the historical, the finite. But as soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem, the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms. So the poem is always a record of failure.


Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.



But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

Introduction to Poetry By Billy Collins


Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They're just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us
We strain at their seams with every breath we take
We are all pulse and sweat,
Tissue and nerve ending
We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.


You – strange, unmasked fellow,
you have the grace of a baseball player.
When I was younger I too saved the Earth.



Waka Waka Bang Splat!

< > ! * ' ' #
Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
^ " ` $ $ -
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
! * = @ $ _
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
% * < > ~ # 4
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
& [ ] . . /
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.



But the two men,
that last morning of death, before
the first of light, watched the land
of Venus, its sweetless shore,
and thought, “This is the end.
This is the last of a man like me.”
Until they saw, over the mists
of Venus, two fish creatures stop
on spangled legs and crawl
from the belly of the sea.
And from the planet park
they heard the new fruit drop.

Anne Sexton - Venus and the Ark
The saddest thing I ever did see
Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.
He looks at me, and “Friend,” says he,
“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.”
-- Shel Silverstein
Enter up, down, up, down, left, right, left, right, a, b, a, to tear open the sky. Left, left, b, b, to keep warm.
-- Ben Lerner
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse
My name is Sancho
I live on the Rancho
I make 5 Pesos a day
I go see my Lucy
she shows me her pussy
she takes me 5 Pesos away
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."



Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-- Robert Frost


the finger

by Charles Bukowski


the FINGER is their

I see grown men
FINGERING each other
throughout the day.

it gives me pause.
when I consider
the state of our cities,
the state of our states,
the state of our country,
I begin to

the FINGER is a mind-
we are the FINGERERS.
we give it
to each other.
we give it coming and
we don't know how
else to respond.

what a hell of a way
to not