That is the way God made you.
And what is wrong with it? Why, Nothing.
Except that you are cold and cannot cook.
Merdice can cook. Merdice
Of Murdered heart and docked sarcastic soul.
The bolted Nomad, on a winter noon
Cook guts; and sits in gas. (She has no shawl, her landlord has no coal.)
You out beyond the shellac of her look
And of her sill!
She envies you your fury
That enfolds your silver skill
She thinks you are a mountain and a star, unbaffleable;
With sentient twitch and scurry.
Time flies by like a great whale
And I find my hand grows stale at the throttle
Of my many faceted and fake appearance
Who bucks and spouts by detour under the sheets
Hollow portals of solid appearance
Movies are poems, a holy bible, the great mother to us
People go by in the fragrant day
Accelerate softly my blood
But blood is still blood and tall as a mountain blood
Behind me green rubber grows, feet walk
In wet water, and dusty heads grow wide
Padré, Father, or fat old man, as you will,
I am afraid to succeed, afraid to fail,
Tell me now, again, who I am?
“I remember making designs in the dark with a fast moving lit cigarette.”
Joe Brainard – I Remember
The Sonnets LXV
by Ted Berrigan (1934 – 1983)
Dreams, aspirations of presence! Innocence gleaned,
annealed! The world in its mysteries are explained,
and the struggles of babies congeal. A hard core is formed.
Today I thought about all those radio waves
He eats of the fruits of the great Speckle bird,
Pissing on the grass!
I too am reading the technical journals,
Rivers of annoyance undermine the arrangements
Someone said “Blake-blues” and someone else “pill-head”
Washed by Joe’s throbbing hands
She is introspection.
It is a Chinese signal.
There is no such thing as a breakdown
Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett were part of the second wave of the New York School of poets during the 1960’s. Like their counterparts, poets Anne Waldman, Joe Brainard, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, the spirit of The New York School was heavily influenced by surrealism that mixed serious subjects with humor, wit and a playful collaborative spirit that stretched across the visual arts, art criticism and the theater.
What’s interesting about the New York School is for all the dissimilarity in poetic style among the poets, they had many things in common. Many of the poets associated with the New York School:
– Attended Harvard University
– Completed Military Service
– Were Homosexual or Bi-Sexual (Berrigan was married and had two children)
– Reviewed art
– And the obvious one, lived in New York City during the early stages of their writing career.
Both Ron Padgett and Ted Berrigan were heavily influenced by The Beat Poets, in particular Kerouac. My favorite poem by Ron Padgett, How To Be Perfect, doesn’t lend itself to Fourteenlines as its too long, but is worth the read. Here’s the link if you are so inclined for something longer today and aspire to be perfect.
Berrigan used the line – “There is no such thing as a breakdown”, in more than one of his sonnets. For a man who died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 49, you have to wonder if he felt his spiral of self destruction was pre-ordained or was it a plaintive plea for a change in direction before it was too late?
Do you have a favorite poet from this movement and a favorite poem? Share in the comments section, I would love to hear your opinion.
The Love Cook
by Ron Padgett
Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it’s night and the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I’ve got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.
what other men sometimes have thought they’ve seen.
And since then I’ve been bathing in the poem
lifting her shadowy flowers up for me,
and hurled by hurricanes to a birdless place
the waving flags, nor pass by prison ships
O let me burst, and I be lost at sea!
and fall on my knees then, womanly.
I was just out of the reach of Hurricane Michael this week in Tampa Florida. A reminder of how local weather is, even extreme weather. Parts of the Florida panhandle were devastated yesterday while downtown Tampa got very little rain, almost no wind and only a small rise in sea levels channel side.
Jean Toomer (1894 – 1967)
Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Bitten by the sun
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.