Category Archives: audio

Wanting to Die – Anne Sexton

(source: Open Culture)

Since you asked me most days I cannot remember
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by the voyage.
Then almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well that grass blades you mentioned,
The furniture you have placed under the sun.

But Suicides have specail launguage.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools,
They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,
Have possession of the enmy, eaten the enmy,
Have taken on his craft, his music.

In this way, hear thoughtful
Warmer than oil or water
I have rested, drooling at the mouthhole.

I do not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born they don’t always die,
But dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet
That even children would look on and smile.

To Trust all that life under your tongue!
That, all by itself, becomes a passion
Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say

And yet after she waits for me. Year after Year.
To so delicately undo an old wound,
To empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
Raging at the fruit, a pumped up moon,
Leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

Leaving the page of the book carelessly open
Something unsaid, the phone off the hook
And the love, whatever it was, an infection.

(1967)

O were my Love yon Lilack fair – Robert Burns

O were my Love yon Lilack fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring;
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing.

How I wad mourn, when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I was sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.

[O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa'!
And I mysel' a drap o' dew,
Into her bonnie breast to fa'!

Oh, there beyond expression blesst
I'd feast on beauty a' the night;
Seal'd on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley'd awa by Phebus' light!]

(1793)

Digging – Seamus Heaney

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(1:39)
(audio from mp3olimp)
(text from poetry foundation)

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

(1966)

anyone lived in a pretty how town – e. e. cummings

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(2:53)
(audio from: Poetry Out Loud)
(read by David Mason)

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Shoveling Snow with Buddha – Billy Collins

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(2:22)
(Audio from The Best Cigarette
(Text from Picnic, Lightning)

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.

We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.