Author Archives: bp

Funeral Blues by WH Auden

      Funeral Blues by WH Auden

Read by Tom O’Bedlam

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

One Art on Hidden Brain

I am an avowed podcast fiend, so it’s not surprising that yesterday I was looking for a new podcast to listen to. By chance, I selected Hidden Brain (I’ve heard much about it, but never listened to it) and its recent episode called “Fresh Starts”. It explores two stories on people losing something precious to them, but through that loss, finding something new. To my delight, the episode ended with a reading by Aimee Mann of Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art. While I recommend the entire podcast, you can hear Mann’s reading at the 47:00 minute mark. Enjoy.

Looking Back in My Eighty-first Year – Maxine Kumin

      Looking Back in My Eighty-first Year - Maxine Kumin

text and audio from Poems Out Loud

How did we get to be old ladies—
my grandmother’s job—when we
were the long-legged girls?
—HILMA WOLITZER

Instead of marrying the day after graduation,
in spite of freezing on my father’s arm as
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I’m not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine
the original manuscript
of Stendhal’s unfinished Lucien Leuwen

I, who had never been west of the Mississippi,
should have crossed the ocean
in third class on the Cunard White Star,
the war just over, the Second World War

when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over
a fence line. How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.

Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked

till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back
littering the runway with carbon paper…
Why didn’t I go? It was fated.

Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-legged girl.

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka died on Thursday the 9th at the age of 79. While others are more qualified to speak of the man and his work, I do want to take a moment to reflect upon Baraka. It was his readings that I discovered in college that later inspired the creation of this website. He, more than other poets I had heard at the time, showed me how a poem can be transformed by a performance. I thank him for that.

NY Times: Amiri Baraka, Polarizing Poet and Playwright, Dies at 79
NPR: Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka
PotW.org: Amiri Baraka’s reading of “Dope”
PotW.org: Amiri Baraka’s reading of “Western Front”
PotW.org: Amiri Baraka’s “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note”

And the City Stood in Its Brightness – Czeslaw Milosz

      And the City Stood in Its Brightness - Czeslaw Milosz

(translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott)

And the city stood in its brightness when years later I returned,
And life was running out, Ruteboeuf’s or Villon’s,
Descendants already born were dancing their dances,
Women looked in their mirrors, made from a new metal,
What was it all for, if I cannot speak?
She stood above me, head like the earth on its axis,
My ashes were laid in a can under the bistro counter,

And the city stood in its brightness when years later I returned,
To my home in the display case of a granite museum
Beside eyelash mascara, alabaster vials, and menstruation girdles of an Egyptian princess,
There was only a sun forged out of gold plate,
On darkening parquetry the creep of unhurried steps,

And the city stood in its brightness when years later I returned,
My face covered with a coat though now no one was left
Of those who could have remembered my debts never paid,
My shames not forever, base deeds to be forgiven.
And the city stood in its brightness when years later I returned.

(1963)